Press Releases

    SG/SM/9359
    AFR/970
    14 June 2004

    Cairo Programme ‘Practical Blueprint’ for Reducing Poverty, Promoting Development in Africa Says Secretary-General in Message to Dakar Meeting

    NEW YORK, 11 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the regional ministerial Review Conference on Implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development Plan of Action, delivered by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, in Dakar, 11 June:

    I would like to thank the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and United Nations Population Fund for convening this important meeting on implementation of the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, and of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration which, two years earlier, set out Africa’s common position on population, family and sustainable development.

    I would also like to thank the Government and people of Senegal for hosting this event, and President Wade for signalling, through his attendance, the great importance he attaches to these issues.

    Many important achievements have been made in Africa since the Cairo and Dakar/Ngor conferences. The region has taken significant steps to integrate the Cairo programme into national laws, and to create mechanisms to combat HIV/AIDS, gender inequalities and poor reproductive health. This contributes to the efforts of the region, through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, to combat poverty.

    But, of course, much more needs to be done. Too many women and girls continue to be kept out of the development process. Too many women have no access to health care. Too many girls do not go to school. Too many women die of preventable pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes. AIDS has claimed the lives of some 15 million African men, women and children. Half of Africa’s people live in poverty, lacking adequate food, housing, education and health.

    Population and reproductive health are at the heart of these challenges. The Millennium Development Goals will be that much harder to achieve if the commitments on population and reproductive health are not met. That means stronger efforts to promote women's rights, and greater investments in education and health, including reproductive health and family planning. Such investments yield high returns not only for individuals, but for entire families and communities.

    The centrality of the Cairo Programme to the Millennium Development Goals has been reaffirmed by all other regions of the world, as well as by your own continent’s population experts. I hope you will join them, and push for vigorous implementation of these practical blueprints for reducing poverty and promoting development in Africa. The price of inaction -- roughly 2.5 million maternal deaths, 7.5 million child deaths and 49 million maternal injuries in the next 10 years -- is too high to contemplate. People are looking to you to act with greater urgency to ensure that such scenarios do not come to pass.

    The United Nations will continue to be your partner in this effort. Thank you for your commitment and support, and please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.

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