Report recommends new United Nations Population Fund head focus on sexual and reproductive health

The new head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) should focus on the agency’s core mission—promoting sexual and reproductive health, including universal access to family planning, according to a new report by a Center for Global Development working group co-chaired by HSPH Prof. David Bloom.

“Enabling women to avoid unwanted pregnancies is one of the best investments that the international community can make. UNFPA should position itself to be the global champion on this critical issue,” Bloom said.

Some 215 million women lack access to modern contraceptives and an estimated 350,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes, according to the report.

UNFPA’s new executive director, Babatunde Osotimehin, a former minister of health in Nigeria, has taken the helm at a time when UNFPA’s mission is receiving greater attention than ever. Yet the report finds that the agency has been engaged in a broad range of activities that dilute its impact on high-priority Millennium Development Goals, which include improving child and maternal health.

The report offers four recommendations on how to achieve faster progress on UNFPA’s main objective while reducing redundancy and building on the strengths of various UN agencies that work on population, sexuality, health, women’s empowerment, and other issues related to UNFPA’s core mandate.

  • Establish and pursue a limited set of priorities closely related to UNFPA’s unique mission.
  • Refine goals and transparently measure progress.
  • Align human resources with a focused and renewed mission.
  • Rebrand UNFPA as the lead agency for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

(Source: Center for Global Development release)

Read UNFPA report brief
Read UNFPA report