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Lack of birth control hits millions of women globally: India

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

India today expressed concern over a staggering 222 million women not having access to contraceptive services globally, leading to 80 million unplanned pregnancies, 30 million unplanned births and 20 million unsafe abortions each year.

Addressing the "International Inter-ministerial Conference on South-South Cooperation in the Post-ICPD and MDGs" here, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad lamented that universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and care has not been ensured even after 20 years of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

"It is time we acknowledge that we need to make massive and strategic investments for universal access to affordable and appropriate sexual and reproductive health services," he said.

Azad said child marriages, teenage pregnancies, neglected youth and adolescent populations, high levels of malnutrition including anaemia, and violence against women are several other issues which are critical to accelerating progress on the Millennium Development Goals but have not received due attention so far.

He said nations must agree on a new set of goals and it would be a mistake not to build on the success achieved so far.

"Let us not undermine the work we have collectively done, in fact we have much to be proud of - momentum for gender equality and human rights has never been stronger...We must arrive at an informed agenda for post-2015," he noted.

He said preliminary findings show that between 1994 and 2012, fertility fell by 29 per cent, contraceptive prevalence for women aged 15 to 49 rose from 58.4 per cent to 63.6 per cent, while unmet need for modern methods declined from 20.7 per cent to 18.5 per cent.

Azad said maternal mortality rates have fallen by 47 per cent since the first ICPD - but that is far short of MDG goal of 75 per cent reduction. Similarly, child mortality has declined by 41 per cent globally, but falls short of the goalpost of 66 per cent reduction.

The minister said studies show that meeting the unmet needs in South, Central and South-East Asia alone would reduce maternal deaths by 75 per cent, newborn deaths by 52 per cent and unintended pregnancies by 74 per cent.

First Published: Wed, October 23 2013. 20:57 IST