Iraq, Baghdad, 11 July 2021 – Today, UNFPA jointly with the Ministry of Health and Environment, commemorated World Population Day, focusing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility. A panel of distinguished experts on economic development, population and demography, as well as reproductive health discussed the importance of reproductive rights and family planning for gender equality and sustainable development of Iraq.
Speaking at the event, Dr Riyadh Abdul Amir Al-Halfi, the Director-General of Public Health at the Ministry of Health emphasised the need to implement the national family planning strategy, not only through the increase of supply of contraceptives but also through increasing awareness about the importance of family planning for the economic stability of families and healthy future of children and mothers.
For her part, Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative to Iraq said: “Individuals and couples must have universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning services regardless of humanitarian or economic challenges faced by society. Family planning leads to healthier mothers and children and indicates that women’s rights in making informed decisions about the size of their family are ensured in society”.
“Women, especially young girls, must be empowered socially, economically and politically and must be encouraged to exercise their rights,” she added.
Dr Alexander Hamilton, the Economic and Statistics Adviser s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (UK) at the British embassy in Iraq, stated that supporting family planning has major returns on investment: “A one-dollar investment in family planning bring US$ 120 return in health, social and economic benefits. For example, in Iraq, reducing the number of unintended pregnancies by 0.5% in five years would equal to 7% per capita increase in the education budget”.
The expert panellists elaborated on why family planning is a national priority and why it should be a key element in population policies to harness the demographic dividend. They shared examples of family planning positive impact on economic and social development from developed and middle-income countries.
Following the panel discussion, representatives from the Ministry of Planning, civil society, young people, and people with disabilities shared their thoughts on the topic. Key messages that came out from this exchange focused on the importance of changing attitudes towards fertility and the number of children and educating communities about healthy birth spacing to keep mothers alive and babies healthy, and the importance of the provision of quality and inclusive family planning services to all to enable young people, women and men to exercise their reproductive rights.
—- UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
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