Universal Access Project
The Universal Access Project’s mission is to achieve the fifth Millennium Development Goal to provide universal access to reproductive health care by 2015.

Today, roughly 222 million women lack the simple luxury in their lives of family planning services. To provide such services would not only help these women; it would improve overall global health, strengthen communities, decrease death rates of mothers and newborns and help alleviate global poverty.

The choice and the freedom to decide if and when to bear a child belong in the category of basic human rights. Providing easy access to contraceptives for women in third-world countries ensures that everyone may enjoy the same rights, and is predicted to reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies worldwide from 7.5 million to 22 million.

The Universal Access Project is chiefly focused on informing and mobilizing U.S. policy makers to support international reproductive health as a major element of U.S. foreign development assistance.

Although often overlooked in the shadow of seemingly more important and immediate issues, universal access to reproductive health care deserves attention. Studies conducted in Zambia have shown that one dollar invested in family planning saves four dollars in other health related issues over time; it also reduces newborn deaths by 44%.

Annually, about 350,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth complications, making it the leading cause of death for women in developing countries. By providing them with family planning options, this number may be reduced by one-third – over 100,000 deaths prevented each year.

A website has been created in affiliation with the Universal Access Project – WhyWeCare.org – which compiles essays by 15 prominent leaders from different fields across the globe who support the initiative. Their stories are personal, touching and motivational, giving readers an accurate and related sense of urgency in regards to this project.

Although 2015 is a little more than a year away, founders of the project and members of the UN Foundation remain confident in its future success. Since the initiative’s start in 2008, U.S. funding for family planning has witnessed a 30% increase.

In the words of CNN news network founder and philanthropist Ted Turner (who is also a contributor to WhyWeCare.org), “Complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death of women in their reproductive years, killing an average of 1,000 women per day. That number is just plain unacceptable in this day and age.”

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: UN Foundation, K4Health, WhyWeCare.org
Photo: The Trenches