Management Sciences for Health Supports the United Nations Population Fund Act of 2021 to Improve Women’s and Children’s Health Globally

Arlington, VA—Management Sciences for Health (MSH) welcomes the introduction of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Act of 2021, which MSH has endorsed along with almost 100 other supportive organizations.

The Act authorizes an annual U.S. contribution to UNFPA, which was defunded in 2017, for the purposes of:

  • Ending preventable maternal deaths;

  • Ending the unmet need for contraceptives and promoting a human-rights based approach to family planning;

  • Ending gender-based violence;

  • Ending harmful practices, such as child marriage and female gential mutilation; and

  • Complementing U.S. national security and humanitarian efforts

  • Addressing gaps exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic

MSH has witnessed firsthand the profound impact of UNFPA’s work across a wide range of low-income countries—especially in areas experiencing civil conflict, natural disasters, epidemics, extreme poverty, famine, and other humanitarian crises. Fragile health systems are often unable to provide basic and emergency pregnancy and childbirth care, address sexual and gender-based violence, fight child marriage and genital cutting, and promote the right of all individuals and couples to make their own family planning decisions, free of coercion or discrimination. MSH has worked alongside UNFPA to:

  • Ensure that women in conflict-affected areas of Afghanistan, where facility-based births are not always feasible, have safe delivery kits for giving birth at home

  • Provide women in Burkina Faso, living in the shadows due to the stigma of obstetric fistula, with social and medical services including reparative surgery

  • Partner with governments and women’s organizations to reverse the growing trend of teenage pregnancies among indigenous communities in South America

  • Make sure that health centers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo use up-to-date, evidence-based obstetric procedures and medicines

  • Prevent sexual violence and promote gender equality and social inclusion for young people with disabilities

  • Help rural villagers develop emergency plans so that women who go into labor have a way to get to a health center where a skilled birth attendant can ensure a safe delivery

  • Strengthen the skills of midwives, working on the front lines of maternal health, to respond to obstetric emergencies and advocate for the health and rights of their patients

These and many other vital, high-impact efforts to save lives and improve health and wellbeing could not have taken place without UNFPA’s essential partnership.

“Support for UNFPA is more crucial than ever, as COVID-19 has significantly disrupted sexual and reproductive health and maternal health services and led to increases in gender-based violence,” said Amy Boldosser-Boesch, MSH Senior Director for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health. “This important legislation will ensure that UNFPA can continue to provide life-saving services, including in some of the world’s most fragile contexts. The tireless commitment to the wellbeing of women and children by Rep. Houlahan and her colleagues, along with the Biden-Harris Administration, is an important step in rebuilding U.S. global leadership on access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all, which is enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Act was re-introduced by Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), co-led by Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Jackie Speier (D-CA). 

The full text of the legislation is available here.