United Nations Population Fund - Ministry of Health

United Nations Population Fund

National Support Team
Ministry of Health, Pakistan

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[ Millenium Development Goal 4 ]
Reduction In Child Mortality

[ Millenium Development Goal 5 ]
Reduction In Maternal Mortality

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Population Issues

The work of UNFPA encompasses a wide range of issues (see menu bar). However, the three main areas of focus — reproductive health, women's empowerment, and population and development strategies — are inextricably linked. The ability to make free and informed childbearing decisions lies at their intersection.

Reproductive health and gender issues are both critical determinants of population dynamics. Fertility is driven largely by reproductive and health decisions that individual women and men can or cannot make, depending on the information, services and supplies that are available to them, the cultural context in which they live, and the educational and economic opportunities afforded them. Mortality, another key driver of population dynamics, is also affected by the work of UNFPA, especially in terms of the survival of mothers and children during the vulnerable neonatal period, the prevention and treatment of HIV, and the general health of families.

Empowered women, through both their reproductive and productive roles, play a fundamental role in the well-being of families and communities and can help them thrive. And their empowerment, as well as the education and empowerment of the younger generation, can have strong intergenerational effects. Demographic trends, which are impacted by individual reproductive decisions, also alter the social, economic and cultural landscapes in which these decisions are made. Understanding these trends and their implications for policies requires careful data collection and analysis.

Human rights principles are fundamental to all of our work. Cultural fluency — that is, understanding the deeply entrenched attitudes, beliefs and motivations that shape individual and social behaviour — underpins the effectiveness of all that we do.

These and many other interlinkages between population and human development are perhaps best spelled out in the document that guides the work of UNFPA. The Programme of Action developed at the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo 1994) lays out a far-sighted 20-year plan for advancing human well-being. It emphasizes the crucial role of women and addresses almost every aspect of population and development, from the importance of primary education and health care to the impact of urbanization, migration, ageing and climate change. This year (2009) marks the 15th anniversary of the ICPD — an opportunity to emphasize the interconnections between various aspects of our work and recommit to its promise of a better world.