Remarks of Jose Ferraris, UNFPA Representative, at the Opening of Commemoration Ceremonies for World Population Day 2012, 11 July, in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Good morning, selamat pagi.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the opening ceremony for World Population Day 2012 in Indonesia, which is being commemorated for the first time outside Jakarta. World Population Day is celebrated this day each year by UN member states around the world to focus attention on the urgency and importance of issues related to population. This year’s theme of “Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services” was selected to accelerate progress and reenergize commitments toward achievement of this goal.
The inspiration for this year’s World Population Day theme derives from Millennium Development Goal 5b, “Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health.” Years before the MDGs were articulated, the International Conference on Population and Development, or ICPD, held in Cairo in 1994, also called for universal access by 2015 to reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, assisted childbirth, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Since then, the ICPD’s Programme of Action has provided a comprehensive framework for addressing population issues by focusing on the right of all people to access and make informed decisions about their own reproductive health. These agreements frame the work we do at the United Nations Population Fund. It is your work in communities throughout East Nusa Tenggara, and likewise throughout Indonesia, that breathes life into the world community’s commitment to achieve universal access to reproductive health services.
What do we mean when we talk about reproductive health? The ICPD defines ‘reproductive health’ as the ability of all women and men to exercise control over their reproductive health and lives, including to:
We frame these issues within the context of human rights and gender equality, since reproductive health is an essential component of general health and a prerequisite for social, economic, and human development.
This is attested by the fact that the leading cause of ill health and death for women in their reproductive age (15-49 years old) is reproductive health problems. And because women are often the backbones of their families, these problems can affect the well-being of the whole family. Evidence shows that investment in reproductive health services creates significant dividends for economic development by improving family and child health, protecting the environment, increasing security, and advancing women’s rights.
UNFPA is an international development agency committed to fulfilling the vision of a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA partners with governments, NGOs, and those in the private sector by providing technical expertise in the areas of its mandate to address the needs of the people of Indonesia.
In Indonesia, too many mothers are dying in pregnancy or childbirth. Currently, for every 100,000 live births in this country, 228 mothers die. This is well above the target of 102 that Indonesia has set to achieve by 2015. While progress has been made in attaining a high level of births attended by a professional trained in delivery, the proportion of maternal deaths remains high, due to a lack of continuity and delays in obstetric care. There are also inconsistencies in quality of care at every level of service. Disparities in access and quality by region, residence, and socioeconomic status persist across Indonesia.
Indonesia’s large reproductive age population, meaning those aged between 15 and 49, numbers more than 126 million people. This presents both potential challenges and benefits. How we respond in family planning will ultimately affect the quality of Indonesia’s human resources,since those of reproductive age are also the most productive.
Women need to be empowered to have easy and affordable access to safe, effective family planning services. This enables them to control and plan their own reproductive lives, such as the timing and spacing of their children.
Unmet need in family planning has remained constant at 9 percent for several years in Indonesia. This means that 5.8 million women who need family planning services do not have access to them.
A related problem is the low participation of men in family planning. Only 1.3 percent of men use condoms in Indonesia. Condoms continue to carry stigma from association with “negative” behaviors, part and parcel with the persistent but erroneous belief that reproductive health services increase sexual activity, especially among young people.
Although the overwhelming majority of young people, about 90 percent, think that contraceptive services should be provided to them, none are available due to legal restrictions on the provision of contraception to unmarried people.
The low use of contraceptives among young people is reflected in the fact that nearly 40 percent of new AIDS cases are between the ages of 20‐29, meaning they were likely infected as a teenager or in their early twenties. Sexual transmission is now the primary method of contracting HIV in Indonesia.
Young people need to be empowered in all aspects of their lives—in education, employment, family, civic participation, and health. Young people have, as a fundamental human right, the right to access reproductive health information and services. Ensuring universal access to reproductive health services, including family planning, enables men and boys to take an active and critically important role in promoting gender equality and empowering women.
Today’s World Population Day ceremonies are an occasion to recognize the valuable partnerships UNFPA enjoys with those who also work to advance this year’s theme, universal access to reproductive health: Government, both at the national level, here in East Nusa Tenggara, and other provinces in which UNFPA works; community institutions, faith-based organizations, youth groups, NGOs, and other development partners, such as AUSAID and other sister UN agencies.
I would especially like to acknowledge the commitment shown by the Governor of East Nusa Tenggara and the work of the Ministry of Health through the Mother and Child Health programme, RevolusiKIA, which has shown success in improving maternal and neonatal health in the province.
Allow me to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all of you for making this commemoration of World Population Day a success. I encourage all of us to engage the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead together, through dedicated work. Let us all aspire to the noble aim of improving the quality of life for individuals and families, communities and countries, through universal access to reproductive health services, thus building a safer, happier, and healthier world. On this World Population Day, UNFPA reaffirms its commitment to work with all of its partners to ensure that universal access to sexual and reproductive health, especially voluntary family planning, is recognized as a key element of the new international development agenda after 2015, and of all development and poverty reduction plans and policies.
Thank you for sharing this special day with us. Terima kasih.