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Annual Report 2016: Millions of lives transformed

Now more than ever, we must ensure that the marginalized, the forgotten—the ones often left behind—can exercise their fundamental human right to decide, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, when or how often to have children.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is proud to have enabled millions of women of childbearing age to exercise that right and to have helped to nearly double modern contraceptive use worldwide from 36 per cent in 1970 to 64 per cent in 2016.

Increasing access to voluntary planning has not only empowered more women to make decisions about the timing and spacing of pregnancies, but it has also led to better health outcomes for women and has helped reduce maternal deaths globally from 532,000 in 1990 to 303,000 in 2016.

But the number of maternal deaths is still too high. We must get to zero. No woman should die giving life.

We know how to reach zero maternal deaths. But in many cases, resources are still insufficient to make sure every pregnant woman has at least four antenatal care visits, every birth is attended by skilled workers and life-saving medicines are available to everyone who needs them.

Without continued political and financial support from donor countries and renewed commitments from developing nations, we risk losing the momentum made towards saving mothers’ lives, increasing access to voluntary family planning and achieving universal sexual and reproductive health and rights. We also risk falling short of our shared goal to leave no one behind as we move forward with the global sustainable development agenda.

In times of budgetary constraints, governments need to reassure constituencies that investing in UNFPA yields results.

This annual report shows how funds entrusted to UNFPA have enabled us to protect and promote the health and rights of millions of women and young people and enable them to realize their full potential.
The numbers in this report speak for themselves.

In 2016, for example, contraceptives supplied by UNFPA reached 20.9 million people, helped avert an estimated 11.7 million unintended pregnancies and nearly 3.7 million unsafe abortions and prevent an estimated 29,000 maternal deaths.

The returns on donor and developing country investments in UNFPA are quantifiable. But the more important measure of success is the survival, health and well-being of women and young people whose rights have been upheld and whose lives have been transformed as a result of our programmes in 155 countries and territories.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin