Maternal deaths halved since 1994

According to the United Nations Population Fund, the global maternal mortality rate has "nearly halved" since the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The organisation's executive director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin noted that access to family planning has also improved in the years since the landmark conference, as has the participation of women in "political, economic and cultural life".

"The ICPD ... is not about celebrating history, it's about making it,"

His remarks were made during an address to the ICPD International Conference on Human Rights, which was held in The Netherlands this week.

The ICPD aims to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health. Dr Osotimehin warned that many obstacles still need to be overcome before this goal is reached. He noted in particular that the transmission of HIV is still criminalised in more than 60 countries and child marriage remains commonplace. Dr Osotimehin also drew attention to the prevalence of unsafe abortion, claiming that it accounts for some 13 per cent of maternal deaths every year.