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More Attention Must Be Paid To Sexual Health

More Attention Must Be Paid To Sexual And Reproductive Health

The Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Dr Steven Sinding, says there’s no hope of reducing poverty in the world unless more attention is paid to sexual and reproductive health.

Dr Sinding, who is in New Zealand this week to talk with Government Ministers and officials and NGOs, says not including sexual and reproductive health in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) was a mistake.

“The links between poverty and poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes are clear and if we are to be successful in meeting the MDG target of reducing world poverty by half by 2015 – then we have to get serious about ensuring universal access to reproductive health services.

“Not acknowledging people’s basic right of access to reproductive health services and information is to put at risk the health and wellbeing of millions of women around the world. I’m talking about the most basic of needs – like the right to obtain contraception or to get appropriate medical care when delivering a baby.

“It’s time to front up to this and make sure sexual and reproductive health and rights are included in the declaration of the 2005 conference to review the Millennium Development Goals. After all, many countries do believe in this because they did sign up to it at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) 10 years ago.

“It’s wrong that this hard-fought right never made it into the MDGs.

Dr Sinding said it was important to stand firm against countries like the United States that continued to try and block moves to have sexual and reproductive health acknowledged in the MDGs.

“We must also be concerned about the recent moves of the US to require organisations that receive US Government AIDS funding to commit to policies against legal acceptance of prostitution. Other forms of harm reduction, including needle exchange and condom promotion are also coming under fire.

“We must have open and comprehensive programmes that address the entire range of issues – unlike the abstinence-only programmes that the United States Government is currently investing hugely in.

“We know because the research shows us that abstinence-only education works for a small number of young people for a limited time only.”

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