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Sexual and reproductive health encompasses key areas of UNFPA’s vision – that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994 defines reproductive health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice.”

The Eastern Europe and Central Asia region is characterized by certain trends in sexual and reproductive health such as relatively high maternal mortality mostly in Central Asia, above-average number of abortions, relatively low usage of modern contraceptives and high rates of cervical cancer. Data, however, conceal vast inequalities both within and between countries of the region where particular sectors of the community continue to be disproportionately affected. For instance, the risk of poor health often correlates with poverty levels, age, gender, geographical location and marital status.

Trends in the region point to several priority sexual and reproductive health areas in particular need of development; these include maternal health, family planning and cervical cancer. Major advances have been achieved to reduce maternal mortality across the region, although some countries may fall short of reaching maternal health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Latest available data suggests many women in the region continue to lack universal access to quality family planning information and services including commodities. Despite efforts, many countries still lack comprehensive cervical cancer prevention programs and as a result, women of the region are at an increased risk of the disease.

UNFPA is committed to reducing the vast inequalities in access and utilization of sexual and reproductive health services throughout the region. UNFPA plays a convening role and acts as catalyst for change and action at regional and country levels to strengthen health systems, empower communities and enhance national commitments to achieve universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health.

At the regional level, UNFPA prioritizes programmes focused on reduction of maternal mortality, repositioning family planning and strengthening comprehensive cervical cancer paying special attention to key populations at risk. To support countries in the focus areas, UNFPA supports capacity development of national partners and institutions, assists in building evidence for better programming and decision making, brings technical expertise in country and supports South-South cooperation between countries.

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