On October 29 Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), visited Kazakhstan to develop cooperation between UNFPA and Kazakhstan in the area of healthcare and population.
Dr Osotimehin met with Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov and Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov in Astana. He highlighted the significant progress made by Kazakhstan in reducing maternal mortality and the spread of HIV/AIDS and described Kazakhstan as the center of UNFPA’s work in the Central Asian region. Dr Osotimehin also said the UNFPA fully endorses Kazakhstan’s investment in the young population as the means to achieving further significant advances in the health of the nation.
UNFPA is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programs to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
Dr Osotimehin is a physician and public health expert who, before his UN appointment, served as Nigeria’s Minister for Health. Prior to that, he was Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids, which coordinates measures to combat HIV and AIDS in a country of more than 160 million people.
The main focus of UNFPA work in Kazakhstan - which began in 1992 - is achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goal 5: improving mothers’ health through ensuring a decrease in maternal mortality and attaining universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The UNFPA Kazakhstan program for 2010-2015 supports the implementation of a series of national priority programs, including the Strategic Development Plan to 2020, the healthcare development plan for 2011-2015 “Salamatty Kazakhstan” and the Strategy on Gender Equality 2006-2016.
Adolescents, young people, women of reproductive age and senior citizens are the particular focus of the UNFPA program, especially those people within the socially vulnerable population (for example women with many children, residents of rural areas, migrants, people with disabilities and people with HIV or at high risk of acquiring HIV).
Kazakhstan has achieved substantial improvement in key healthcare indicators in recent years. In 2007, the maternal mortality ratio was 45 per 100,000 live births: while still high relative to developed countries, this is a decrease from 140 per 100,000 births for the period 2003-2008.