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Ukraine celebrates the World Population Day

The theme of the World Population Day 2012 is Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services.

On the occasion of this Day, UNFPA in Ukraine held a press-conference to discuss and highlight the importance of ensuring universal access to Reproductive Health in the context of the global situation and also Ukraine.

Reproductive health is the main focus of UNFPA’s work – “Delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”.

Speaking at the recently concluded United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babtunde Osotimehin stated: “Family planning is a basic human right. However, it remains meaningless unless individuals and couples have access to contraceptives, information and services to enable them to exercise that right”.

Ukraine has already made significant achievements in the area of reproductive health. However, there is still room for improvement. For women aged 15 to 49 years, reproductive health problems constitute a leading cause of ill health and deaths. This is true of Ukraine too. Ukraine’s maternal mortality rate exceeds the average level of the EU countries. Inadequate quality of maternal health care services accounts for about one fifth of preventable maternal deaths. Achievements in the area of family planning in Ukraine has contributed to a decrease in the abortion rate, from 34.1 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 2000 to 15.1 in 2010. Nevertheless, Ukraine’s abortion rates remain more than twice as high as those of the EU countries. So there is an urgent need to invest more in Reproductive Health not only to prevent unnecessary deaths and greatly reduce injuries through childbearing, but also to ensure the overall health and well being of Ukrainian women and their families.

We hope that the on-going health care reform with it strong focus on improving primary health care (PHC) will provide an opportunity for effective integration of FP services and make such quality services accessible for all, including rural population and youth.

In this context UNFPA in Ukraine welcomes the commitment and investments made by the Government of Ukraine to reform the health system including the implementation of the national project “New Life - New Quality of Maternity and Childhood" under the patronage of the President of Ukraine.

A major focus of the UNFPA’s work is young people. Adverse effects and risks to the reproductive health of youth can seriously jeopardize young people’s life chance. Growing incidence of risky sexual behavior and early sexual debut combined with poor level of awareness about potential health risks as well as alcohol and substance abuse, are resulting in unintended pregnancies and abortions among adolescents, and also alarming spread of STIs and HIV in the country.

Access to RH information and good quality but affordable adolescent/youth sexual and reproductive health services can address these issues.

In this regard during June 2012 UNFPA conducted four 3-day training workshops in Odessa and Mykolayiv for medical and social service providers on youth-friendly approaches in delivering HIV/STI services. Workshops strengthened capacity of local service providers (AIDS Centers, RH/FP Centers, STI clinics, technical vocational schools) to provide services to students of technical vocational schools in Odessa and Mykolayiv.