UNFPA is the world's largest international source of funding for population and reproductive health programs. The Fund works with governments and non-governmental organizations in over 140 countries with the support of the international community, supporting programs that help women, men and young people:
Together, these elements promote the human right of "reproductive health", that is physical, mental, and social health in matters related to reproduction and the reproductive system.
In addition to direct action, the Fund raises awareness of these needs worldwide, advocates close attention to population problems, and helps needy countries formulate policies and strategies in support of sustainable development. Since 2001, it has been led by Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. The Fund is also represented by UNFPA Goodwill Ambassadors.
UNFPA's work is guided by the Programme of Action adopted by 179 governments at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. The conference agreed that meeting people's needs for education and health, including reproductive health, is a prerequisite of sustainable development.
The main goals of the Programme of Action are:
These goals were refined in 1999. One of the most important additions concerned HIV:
The Fund promotes a holistic approach to reproductive health care that includes access to a range of safe and affordable contraceptive methods and to sensitive counseling; prenatal care, attended deliveries, emergency obstetric care and post-natal care; and prevention of sexually transmitted infections by promoting safer sexual behavior.
UNFPA looks to improve the lives and expand the choices of individuals and couples. After time, the reproductive choices they choose, multiplied across communities and countries, affect population construction and trends.
The work of the agency revolves around improving reproductive health, making motherhood safer, supporting adolescence and youth, preventing HIV/Aids, promoting gender equality, protecting human rights, and securing reproductive health supplies; throughout all this they use a culturally sensitive approach. Their major countries in need are third world countries who deal with these major problems.
The UNFPA supports programmes in four areas, the Arab States and Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the sub-Saharan Africa. They work in more the 140 countries, territories and areas. Around three quarters of the staff work in the field.
The UNFPA works in partnership with other United Nations agencies, governments and communities. Working together, the agency raises awareness and assembles the support and resources needed to attain the targets presented in the Millennium Goals and at the International Conference on Population and Development.
Some of the UNFPA work involves the lead in providing supplies and services to protect reproductive health. They also encourage the participation of young people and women to help rebuild their societies who are affected by poor reproductive health which expands out into areas such as prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/Aids.
The UNFPA has a mission which it wants to accomplish and that is this – UNFPA promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
The agency’s main goals are – • Universal access to reproductive health services by 2015 • Universal primary education and closing the gender gap in education by 2015 • Reducing maternal mortality by 75 per cent by 2015 • Reducing infant mortality • Increasing life expectancy • Reducing HIV infection rates
Executive Directors and Under-Secretary General of the UN
2000 - present Ms. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
1987 - 2000 Dr. Nafis Sadik (Pakistan)
1969 - 1987 Mr. Rafael M. Salas (Philippines)
The UNFPA executive director stresses the need to broaden participation and overcome mistrust among partners.
Stephen Moore, of the Club for Growth, has leveled criticism on UNFPA, claiming the organization supports Chinese Population Control measures. Mr. Moore makes the claim that women in any trimester of pregnancy are strapped down, and their children aborted by the government, against their will, using UNFPA funds.
However a three-person fact-finding team sent by the U.S., which spent two weeks traveling throughout China, wrote in a report to the State Department that it found "no evidence that UNFPA has supported or participated in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China," as has been charged by critics.
Similar teams sent by the British Parliament and the United Nations found the same result.
This accusation has never been supported by any investigation, and has in fact been disproved by the various US, UK, and UN teams sent to examine UNFPA activities in China. UNFPA points out that it "does not provide support for abortion services". Its charter includes a strong statement condemning coercion.".
The Bush Administration has, nevertheless, continued to withhold funding, and has fought Congressional efforts to require an explanation of its decision to block the funds.
Nonprofit organizations have sprung up in an attempt to change this policy and to compensate by raising private donations: