Sumati Nair, Preeti Kirbat & Sarah Sexton
Series Number: 28
The Program of Action that came out of the 1994 UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo was the first and most comprehensive international policy document to promote the concepts of reproductive rights and reproductive health. Its major recommendation – that population programs should provide integrated reproductive health services rather than just family planning – reflects the organizing and lobbying of women’s health groups around the world, and the Program has undoubtedly been a useful lobbying and advocacy tool for women’s health activists internationally. One decade later, however, maternal mortality worldwide remains high. Some 600,000 women die each year, 95 per cent of them in sub Saharan Africa and Asia. Eighteen million are left disabled or chronically ill because of largely preventable complications during pregnancy or childbirth. These figures indicate that many women do not have access to essential and emergency obstetric care, let alone access to more comprehensive reproductive health services.