Azad underlines women`s health issues in Beijing

IANS| Updated: Oct 23, 2013, 21:47 PM IST

New Delhi: Taking up the issue of the large number of unplanned pregnancies across the globe, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Wednesday underlined the importance of women's sexual and reproductive health while speaking at a conference in Beijing.

A staggering 222 million women around the world lack access to contraceptive services, leading to 80 million unplanned pregnancies, 30 million unplanned births and 20 million unsafe abortions every year, Azad said while addressing the "International Inter-ministerial Conference on South-South Cooperation" in the Chinese capital.

"This is a reminder that universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and care is not ensured. It is time we acknowledge that we need to make massive and strategic investments in universal access to affordable and appropriate sexual and reproductive health services," Azad said, according to an official release.

The minister remarked that child marriages, teenage pregnancies, neglected youth and adolescent populations, high levels of malnutrition including anaemia and violence against women are several other issues which need to be addressed to achieve Millenium Development Goals but have not received due attention so far.

He said significant progress has been made since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994 and preliminary findings show that globally between 1994 and 2012, fertility fell by 29 percent, contraceptive prevalence for women aged 15 to 49 rose from 58.4 percent to 63.6 percent and the unmet need for modern contraceptive methods declined from 20.7 percent to 18.5 percent.