Magazine article UN Chronicle

Reproductive Rights and Health Discussed

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Reproductive Rights and Health Discussed

Article excerpt

The Commission on Population and Development, at its twenty-ninth session in New York from 26 February to 1 March, called for an accelerated international response to the challenges of the Programme of Action adopted in Cairo by the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in the fields of reproductive rights and reproductive health.

It also emphasized the importance of information, education and communication as part of a follow-up strategy to the Cairo Conference, and urged the UN's Population Division to highlight the efforts of Governments in those areas.

It also adopted another resolution expressing regret that the work programme of the Population Division had to be adjusted to take into account the cash-flow situation of the UN and urged that essential elements of the programme not be adversely affected.

The five-day session marked the first time that the Commission was meeting since its membership was expanded by the General Assembly from 27 to 47. This session, held on the Commission's fiftieth anniversary, was the first to follow the multi-year work programme adopted in the wake of the Cairo Conference. It focused on the topic of "reproductive rights and reproductive health, including population information, education and communication".

In the general debate, some speakers described the new bodies that had been created in their countries to monitor and implement the recommendations of the Cairo Programme of Action. Others described their efforts to harmonize national population and development strategies with the goals of the Programme. Those strategies reflected a shift away from quantitative goals towards concern over quality of care and overall indicators of development, such as school enrolment and maternal and child health care. Another issue highlighted was the critical role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in meeting the reproductive health needs of individuals, particularly through information, education and advocacy.

Speakers also welcomed the recent expansion of the Population Information Network (POPIN) to encompass a Web site, including publications, news-letters, statistical tables and other information. Several participants described how databases and CD-ROMs were being used to compile and disseminate demographic data.

Joseph Chamie, Director of the Population Division, recalled that in 1946, when the Commission had been founded, the Division had estimated that the world's population in the year 2000 would be 6.3 billion, and some delegates had thought such unprecedented growth to be inconceivable. …

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