UN Report: Fertility Education Is Key to Fighting Poverty

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Health is a Factor in Fertility

Poor health is another contributing factor to the poverty that drives high-fertility rates, the report says. Life expectancy in the least developed countries is below 50 years, compared to 77 in richer countries—a result of malnutrition and exposure to infection and unsanitary water.

"Poverty contributes to poor health," said Bernstein. "There's less access to medical services and education, so poverty and poor health become drivers for one another and further create an environment for high fertility rates to flourish."

The poor health holds back economic growth; productivity losses from ill health could amount to roughly $360 billion per year in developing countries within two decades the report says.

In sub-Saharan Africa dire poverty continues to makes the HIV/AIDS epidemic even more severe, according to Bernstein.

"The HIV/AIDS epidemic is expected to reduce the economic growth rate for strongly effected countries in Africa by 20 to 40 percent," he said. "It will only drive those areas into more serious poverty and continue the crisis health conditions."

Tackling Population Problems

The UN plans to work with developing nations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to help bring better reproductive healthcare and education to poverty stricken regions. It is also working to promote human rights and prevent obstacles to quality-of-life for women.

"In 1994, the international community agreed that by the year 2000, donor countries in the developed world would contribute $5.6 billion for assistance in reproductive health, but those countries haven't even reached the halfway mark on their pledge," Bernstein said. "The money is needed to get these programs working."

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