UNFPA Director Urges India To Address Family Planning Needs

India “has to actively and aggressively address the issue of family planning” in order to improve human development indicators, including health, education and living standards, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said Wednesday, Reuters reports. “India, Asia’s third-largest economy, is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation by 2030,” but, “despite its impressive economic growth over the last two decades, it has failed to substantially reduce hunger as well as child and maternal mortality rates,” the news service writes, noting that “[a]bout 60 percent of Indian women have no access to family planning services.”

“According to [the] latest government figures, one in every 70 pregnant women is at risk of death if she gives birth, while around 20 percent of pregnancies are either unwanted or poorly timed,” Reuters writes. “Osotimehin, who was in India to review New Delhi’s progress on the [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)], told Alertnet on Monday that authorities needed to reach out to millions more women across the country,” according to the news service. “‘Even though family planning is seen as one intervention, it has a multiplier effect,’ Osotimehin said, adding that providing universal access to family planning reduces maternal mortality by 30 percent,” Reuters writes (Bhalla, 5/2).