Growing Inequalities Will Undo Significant Health Gains – UN Report

The United Nations’ International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014 Report says growing inequalities will undo significant gains in health and longevity made over the past 20 years.

The Report highlights the fact that development gains from the past 20 years could be sustained, unless governments tackled the inequalities that hurt the poorest and most marginalized.

It noted that achievements over the ensuing 20 years had been remarkable, including gains in women’s equality, population health and life expectancy, educational attainment, and human rights protection systems, with an estimated one billion people moving out of extreme poverty.

A copy of the Report which was made available to the Ghana New Agency said, fears of population growth that were already abating in 1994, had continued to ease, and the expansion of human capability and opportunity, especially for women, which had led to economic development, had been accompanied by continued decline in the population growth rate from 1.52 per cent per year in 1990-1995 to 1.15 in 2010-2015.

The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report is the culmination of a landmark UN review of progress, gaps, challenges and emerging issues in relation to the ICPD Programme of Action.

It gathers data from 176 member states, alongside inputs from civil society and comprehensive academic research.

To sustain these gains, the Report, which was launched in New York by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, argues that governments must pass and enforce laws to protect the poorest and most marginalized, including adolescent girls and women affected by violence as well as rural populations.

The document also underlines that the number of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries has fallen dramatically from 47 per cent in 1990 to 22 per cent in 2010, but many of the estimated one billion people living in the 50-60 poorest countries would stagnate as the rest of the world gets richer.

“Nearly one billion people have escaped extreme poverty.
Child and maternal mortality have been cut by nearly one half.

There are more laws to protect and uphold human rights,” said UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. “But enormous inequalities remain in the realization of those rights and access to vital services.”

The Report is the first truly global review of progress, gaps, challenges and emerging issues in relation to the landmark ICPD, held in Cairo in 1994.

The findings provide compelling evidence strongly reinforcing the ground-breaking focus of the Cairo Programme of Action, placing human rights and individual dignity at the heart of development.

“It’s time then to move from words to action. We cannot afford to wait another 20 years to address the inequalities plaguing our collective well-being,” said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Osotimehin.

“Development gains should not be limited to the fortunate; they should reach all populations.”