Call to address reproductive health of the poor

Kathmandu, September 2:

Health sector experts today warned the government that if it did not properly address important issues of the poor, it would fail to achieve the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs) by 2015. Dr Devendra Chhetry, presenting his paper ‘Poverty and Reproductive Health Linkages and Consequences’ in a seminar on ‘ICPD and MDGs-Poverty and Reproductive Health, Linkages and Consequences’ organised by UNFPA, said that if the reproductive health issues of the poor are not properly addressed in the government’s development agenda, Nepal would fail to attain MDGs. “Nepal will also fail to achieve the central ICPD[ International Conference on Population and Development] goal. It has already failed the target set by ICPD for 2005,” Dr Chhetry said.

“Achieving MD or ICPD central goal without addressing the reproductive health issues may not help the poor escape the demographic poverty trap or break the intergenerational poverty cycle,” he said. Dr Safieh Anderson, deputy representative of UN Population Fund said that poverty and reproductive health have a direct relationship, hence reproductive health issues need to be analysed to attain MDGs. Dr Sudha Sharma, president of Nepal Medical Association said the achievement of the MDGs is possible by building on the gains made by reproductive health programmes. Additional indicators should be incorporated in the MDGs, she said.

“Unless the issues of reproductive health rights and violence against women are not addressed, the MDGs can’t be achieved,” Bandana Rana, president at Sancharika Samuha, said However, vice chairman of National Planning Commission, Dr Shankher Prasad Sharma, said that the government is on track to achieve MGDs according to health indicators in the last 12 years. Dr Chhetry said the poor are disadvantaged in terms of ready access to reproductive health care. And the large number of children only aggravates the situation.