Family Planning Promoted on World Population Day
Timor-Leste, 10 July 2012 - World Population Day is being celebrated tomorrow (11/07) to raise awareness of the importance of population issues and their relationship to health and development. This year's theme in Timor-Leste is Family Planning: It's a right. Make it real.
At a press conference in Dili today, UN and Government officials said family planning is a human right that allows parents to make informed decisions about the size of their families and to determine the spacing of children.
As a right, choosing when and how many children to have has a direct link to the health of mothers and children and plays a large role in determining the quality of care that parents can provide for their children.
Family planning is also crucial for the overall development of a nation and one of the most significant factors in reducing poverty as it allows governments to plan for health care, food supplies, education and infrastructure to support a growing population. This is of particular importance in Timor-Leste as the nation has the highest fertility rate in the world with an average of 7.8 children per woman.
The National Director for Community Health from the Ministry of Health, Mr Jose Reis Magno, believes that family planning is crucial:
"Because of the high rate of fertility in Timor-Leste, our country may be more vulnerable to the problems faced by other developing nations.
"If this is not addressed, our increasing population will affect all our resources, including food, water and the health and well-being of our mothers and children. This is why family planning is a national priority."
To assist Timorese with the planning of their families, the Government has established family planning services in health centres throughout Timor-Leste.
According to UNFPA Representative Hernando Agudelo:
"Having access to the information, care and services of family planning is vital to improving maternal and child health, and helps to improve the quality of life for entire families and communities.
However the problem is that globally, the people most in need of access to family planning services do not have them. It is this information and service gap that we are trying to bridge in Timor-Leste through the health centers."
The family planning clinics offer a range of services, including access to information, contraceptives and care by professional health workers.
Louis Gentile, Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Timor-Leste, explains that family planning is also a human right:
"The right of parents to plan their families is derived from fundamental human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a right that must be protected by governments and civil society."
For more information, please call Allison Cooper on +670 7230453 or Hipolito Gama on +670 7311839.