$65 billion needed for population work says UN commission,

Posted: 16 April 2009

Investments of $64.7 billion are needed in 2010 for population programmes that are essential to reduce poverty, promote development and curtail maternal death, according to a major revision of previous estimates. The revised figures - which reflect the quickening interest in population issues - were approved by United Nations Members at the closing session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) last Friday.

One third of this sum, about $21.6 billion, is expected as international assistance, while the remaining two thirds would be domestic investments by developing nations.

The new figure of $64.7 billion is a big revision of the $20.5 billion (in 1993 US dollars) for 2010 that was adopted at the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). This is the first time in 15 years that the Cairo Programme of Action's cost estimates have been reviewed, as demanded by that global consensus.

The UN Secretary-General says in a report that the revision is urgently needed due to the dramatic growth in current needs, with health-care costs skyrocketing and data collection costs rising, as many countries prepare for the 2010 round of censuses.

Family planning

United Nations Members approved the new figures in recognition of the "dire need to increase the financial resources for the implementation" of the Cairo Programme, according to a resolution they adopted. They were particularly concerned about funding for family planning, which was far below requirements.

Indeed, a new study by John Bongaarts and Steven W.Sinding, reported on this website, has found that funding for international family planning programmes has fallen by 30 per cent since the mid-1990's (See: family planning: myths versus facts.

The $64.7 billion is broken into work categories adopted in Cairo. The total 2010 costs for sexual and reproductive health, which include family planning and maternal health, are estimated at $27.4 billion; $32.5 billion for HIV/AIDS; and $4.8 billion for basic research, data collection and policy analysis. The figures change annually, rising from some $67.8 billion in 2011 to $69.8 billion in 2015.

The new estimates more accurately reflect current needs and are more in line with the investments required to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

"As the financial crisis unwinds, now is the time to increase social investment and redouble efforts for the ICPD agenda." The experiences shared by countries around the world, she added, "clearly showed that we are aware of the urgent need for intensified action and committed to the cause."

The key agenda before the Commission was the contribution of the Cairo Programme to the MDGs. The world's developing countries made the case when they said on the opening day: "the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action is crucial for the eradication of extreme poverty."

Speaking as the Group of 77 and China, they added that the Cairo consensus: "has a direct impact on the ability to achieve the MDGs linked to health and social and economic outcomes in the areas of children, mothers, HIV/AIDS, gender, poverty and employment."