Reproductive health indispensable to post-2015 development

A major conference attended by representatives of 47 Asian and Pacific governments has resulted in a declaration that acknowledges sexual and reproductive health and rights are "indispensable" to post-2015 development.

Following last week's talks in Bangkok, ministers voted overwhelmingly in favour of The Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development.

The document calls for universal access to reproductive health services - a measure intended to curb maternal mortalities and the spread of HIV - and an end to gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation.

It will be put forward as the region's contribution to next year's UN General Assembly review of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.

UN under-secretary-general Noeleen Heyzer hailed the participating governments for having led the conference to a positive outcome.

Of the declaration, she said: "It affirms the importance of national laws and policies which respect and protect the reproductive rights of every person, and enable all people to exercise them without discrimination on any grounds."