The State of World Population 2004
UNFPA State of World Population 2004
Ten Years on, UNFPA Reports Uneven Progress in Implementing Landmark Population and Development Consensus
Funding Gap Imperils Efforts to Reduce Maternal Deaths, Prevent HIV/AIDS and Ensure Reproductive Rights
London, UK -- (UNFPA)
September 15, 2004 -- Countries have made impressive progress in carrying out a
bold action plan that links poverty alleviation to women’s rights and
reproductive health, emphasizes The State of World Population 2004 report by
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
But a shortfall of the funds pledged by international donors is undermining
critical efforts to provide family planning services, reduce maternal deaths,
prevent HIV/AIDS and meet the needs of young people and the poor. These are the
key findings of UNFPA’s annual flagship report, launched here today by UNFPA
Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.
In September 1994, some 179 countries adopted a landmark 20-year Programme of
Action at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in
Cairo. It called for universal access to reproductive health care by 2015, as a
key measure to empower women, ensure human rights, reduce poverty, protect the
environment and foster sustainable development.
This year’s report, The Cairo Consensus at Ten: Population, Reproductive Health
and the Global Effort to End Poverty, examines the progress countries have made
and the obstacles they have encountered at the halfway point in implementing the
A global survey by UNFPA indicates that developing countries
have taken important steps to carry out the Cairo recommendations. States have
enthusiastically renewed their commitment to the Programme of Action at a series
of regional review meetings.
Since 1994, most governments have integrated population concerns into their
development strategies. Almost all of the 151 developing countries surveyed have
adopted laws or other measures to protect the rights of girls and women. Some
131 have changed national policies, laws or institutions to recognize
Many countries have acted to integrate reproductive health services into primary
health care, improve facilities and training, adopt national strategies on HIV/AIDS
and address the reproductive health and rights of adolescents. New partnerships
have developed between governments and a broad range of civil society
organizations to meet reproductive health needs.
The use of modern contraception has increased from 55 per cent of couples in
1994 to 61 per cent today. New attention is being paid to harmful traditional
practices, gender-based violence, post-abortion care and women’s reproductive
health needs among populations affected by armed conflict or natural disaster.
Yet, the report points out, progress has been uneven and
enormous challenges remain: Glaring gaps between rich and poor in the
availability and quality of health care persist throughout the world. Laws
ensuring women’s rights are not enforced consistently. More than 350 million
couples still lack access to a full range of family planning services.
More than 500,000 women die every year from pregnancy-related complications;
most deaths could be prevented by expanding access to attended delivery and
emergency obstetric care. In 2003, 3 million people died of AIDS and an
estimated 5 million were newly infected with HIV, half of them between ages 15
and 24. Yet only one person in five at high risk of infection has access to
proven prevention interventions.
Population growth is exacerbating poverty and contributing, along with
unsustainable consumption patterns, to increased stress on the global
environment. While growth has slowed in many countries, world population is
projected to rise from 6.4 billion today to 8.9 billion by 2050, with nearly all
the growth in developing countries. The 50 poorest countries will triple in
size, to 1.7 billion people. Enabling couples and individuals to determine the
number and spacing of their children, and investing in health and education, are
essential to reducing poverty at both household and national levels, the report
“In the face of these challenges, the response of the
international community has been inadequate,” the report states. Donor countries
are providing only about half the amount they pledged to implement the Programme
of Action—$3.1 billion a year rather than the $6.1 billion a year promised by
Donor support for contraceptives and condoms for HIV prevention has declined
over the past decade. Yet demand is expected to increase by 40 per cent by 2015.
Shortages of supplies are expected, with grave consequences for the health and
well-being of millions.
“Unless international assistance rises to the level agreed to at the Cairo
conference,” said Ms. Obaid, “the numbers of people who need family planning,
maternal health care and HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment will
continue to grow. Lack of reproductive health care will continue to be the
leading cause of death and disability for women in the developing world and the
AIDS pandemic will continue to expand and wreak havoc.”
The UN Millennium Development Goals, which include action to halve extreme
poverty and hunger by 2015, reduce maternal mortality and stem the HIV/AIDS
pandemic, depend on the full implementation of the ICPD plan, the report states.
But commitments to provide development assistance must move from declarations of
good intentions to active partnerships and investments.
“This year’s report is, above all, a call to mobilize the political will and the
resources needed to make the Cairo vision of a better world a reality,” said Ms.
UNFPA is the world’s largest multilateral source of assistance to developing
countries for reproductive health and population programmes.
UNFPA’s State of World Population report has been published annually since 1978.
Each year, the report focuses on questions of current interest and concern for
the future. The report is available online, in Arabic, English, French, Russian
and Spanish, at www.unfpa.org