Population Issues Overview
UNFPA promotes the human right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. In many parts of the world, extreme poverty subjects women and men to a lack of real choices, opportunities and the basic services needed to improve their situations. Women often suffer disproportionately, due to violence, discrimination and the burden of poor reproductive health, which is the leading cause of death and disability for women in their reproductive years.
Every minute, one woman dies during pregnancy and birth because she did not receive adequate care and prompt treatment. By increasing interventions for safe motherhood, we can save the lives of half a million women and seven million infants, each year, and at tje same time prevent millions of women from suffering from infections, injury and disability.
Perhaps nowhere is the need for reproductive health services more urgent than in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Every day, 6,800 people are newly infected, and about half are young people under the age of 25. Many know little about the disease and how the virus is transmitted. Young women are especially vulnerable and are more likely to be infected than young men. Reproductive health services that empower women and young people with life-saving information and skills will help prevent HIV from spreading and reduce further suffering and social and economic disruption.
We must also step up efforts for family planning, which has a direct impact on maternal health. When couples can choose the number, timing and spacing of their children, they are better able to ensure there are enough resources for each family member to prosper and thrive. Worldwide, families are having half as many children today as they did in the 1960s, but fertility remains high in the poorest countries. At least 200 million women still do not have access to a range of effective and affordable family planning services, and demand for these services is expected to increase by 40 per cent in the next 15 years. Meanwhile, funding for family planning has been declining in recent years.
UNFPA supports countries in using data for policies and programmes to address the complex linkages between population dynamics, poverty and sustainable development. Directing more resources to all of these issues is critical to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed framework to halve poverty by the year 2015.