MSH Statement on U.S. Government Defunding of UN Population Fund

As an organization committed to saving lives and improving the health of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people by strengthening the health systems that serve them, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is deeply concerned about the impact of the U.S. Government’s defunding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The elimination of U.S. funds for UNFPA puts the health and rights of millions of women and children at risk and stands in stark contrast to American values.

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, or 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.

“In poor countries, and in the challenging, sometimes tragic settings where MSH does some of our most important work, women and children often suffer the most,” said Marian W. Wentworth, MSH’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “For almost half a century, across more than 150 countries and territories, UNFPA has been there to help families. At MSH, we are very proud of the many ways that we have worked together with UNFPA to save and improve lives.”

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 epidemic of teenage pregnancy 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.

The U.S. is one of the largest contributors to UNFPA. Eliminating U.S. funding to UNFPA risks reversing progress in reducing maternal mortality, and hampers the global health community’s work to put an end to preventable maternal and newborn deaths. It jeopardizes the health of families and it will withhold lifesaving humanitarian help from people struggling to survive in countries torn by crisis.  MSH works every day to build strong health systems that can meet the need of every individual and every family for equitable, high-quality health care. We need strong partner institutions to accomplish our mission.

Together with our many partners around the world, MSH urges the U.S. Government to restore full financial support for the essential work of UNFPA.