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Avert ‘dire consequences’ for women's health, UNFPA urges in appeal to prevent maternal deaths

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) announced the next phase of its Supplies Partnership to secure essential contraception and maternal health medicines for millions of women and adolescent girls over the next decade. 

“The global community must act now with commitments to support women and girls”, stressed UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “Failing to do so will have dire consequences: more unintended pregnancies, more unsafe abortions and more women dying from preventable causes”.  

With an estimated investment of $2.5 billion by 2030, the renewed Partnership has the potential to prevent 141 million unintended pregnancies, 328,000 maternal deaths and 42 million unsafe abortions by that time. 

COVID repercussions 

Despite mitigation efforts, the coronavirus pandemic has slowed or even reversed many countries’ decades of progress in family planning, while pandemic-related restrictions, such as lockdowns, together with fears of contracting the virus, have led to fewer women seeking reproductive health services.  

“With countries leading the charge, we must rally to improve women’s health and well-being globally, especially at this time of heightened vulnerabilities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic”, urged the UNFPA head. 

Support imperative 

Countries and partners around the world are making bold commitments to support the next phase of the programme, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom – together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Kühne Foundation, according to UNFPA.   

To date, contraceptive and maternal health services supplied by the programme have had the potential to avert 89 million unintended pregnancies, 227,000 maternal deaths, 1.4 million children’s deaths and 26.8 million unsafe abortions. 

And since 2007, the UNFPA Supplies programme has mobilized more than $1.8 billion in support. 

“A more inclusive and prosperous world can only be achieved by addressing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people, and that’s exactly what we’re working towards in this Partnership”, said Karina Gould, Canadian Minister of International Development, in a press release.

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