Press Releases

    11 July 2005

    Defending Reproductive Health Rights Critical to Advancing Global Equality, Development, Says Deputy Secretary-General at Population Award Ceremony

    NEW YORK, 8 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette’s remarks at the United Nations Population Award ceremony in New York, 7 July:

    It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you to the 2005 United Nations Population Award ceremony.

    For the past 22 years, the United Nations has honoured individuals and organizations each year for the difference their work on population issues has made to the health and quality of life of people around the globe.  This year’s winners continue that tradition.  They are:

    Our individual laureate, Ms. Mercedes Concepcion, is a Professor at the University of the Philippines.  She serves, among other responsibilities, on the Board of Trustees of the Philippines Population Commission, as Honorary President of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, and on the Council of the United Nations University in Tokyo.

    We honour Ms. Concepcion today for her leading role in population research and the formulation of national population policy in her country.  It is not for nothing that she is known in population and reproductive health circles in the Philippines as “the godmother”.  Among other achievements, she has helped to ensure that reliable systems are in place to monitor and evaluate national population policy.  She has also made important scientific studies of population in the Philippines, as well as in the broader Asian region and elsewhere.  Her work has always been directed at producing policy that changes lives for the better, and, in that, she has been remarkably successful.

    The Asociación Pro Bienestar de la Familia de Guatemala, also known as APROFAM, is a private, non-profit, non-denominational organization founded in 1964.  And it is represented today by its Chairman, Mr. Giancarlo Maselli.

    APROFAM is the leading non-governmental provider of reproductive health services in Guatemala, and we honour it for its outstanding work in providing family planning assistance, reproductive health education, and sexual health counselling and training to low income families in Guatemala.  APROFAM has undertaken scientific investigations on population and development, and has disseminated socio-demographic data to develop and maintain a strong information base for population policies and programmes.

    We also congratulate APROFAM for innovation and diversification.  Using a modern business model and integrated health management systems, APROFAM has extended its work to include cardiology care, X-rays, dentistry, and laboratory services that produce test results for local physicians, as well as clinical staff.  APROFAM has boosted the efficiency of processing medication and contraceptive orders, and nearly doubled the volume of clinical service visits.

    The work of our laureates should remind us that issues of population and reproductive health must be squarely addressed as part of global efforts to promote development and human rights.  We must forge stronger and more integrated policy responses to today’s unprecedented demographic trends.

    That is an important message at a time when our world is summoning renewed determination to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Action on development lies at the heart of the reform agenda that the Secretary-General placed before Member States in March.  Important steps forward have been made in recent weeks, and we are looking for major progress to be locked in at September’s Summit of world leaders here in New York.

    Population dynamics, as the evidence has clearly shown, affect all areas of development. Today, in both developed and developing countries, their consequences are a subject of intense public debate and policy-making.  The importance of strengthening national data systems in this field is widely recognized, and is underscored by the MDG reporting process.

    At the same time, reproductive health rights and access to reproductive health services must be strongly defended.  They are critical in the global effort to advance equality, to improve maternal and child health, to combat HIV/AIDS, to reduce poverty, and to ensure sustainable development.

    We thank our laureates for what they have done to ensure that population and reproductive health issues receive the full attention they deserve.  Through their work, they have provided both information and inspiration, both of which are sorely needed.

    On behalf of the United Nations, I congratulate once more the winners of this prestigious Population Award.

    * *** *