By investing into reproductive health, the world will be closer to achieving the SDGs

28 May 2020

International Seminar “Financing SDG implementation: The Role of Integrated National Financing Frameworks


Via videoconferencing

Date: 28 May 2020 (09:00 Ashgabat time/00:00 New York time)


Statement of Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director Management ad interim


By investing into reproductive health, the world will achieve the sustainable development


Dear participants of the International Seminar on Financing SDG Implementation, esteemed representatives of SPECA countries, Ministers of Finance, UN colleagues and representatives of the IFIs,


I would like to thank for the opportunity to speak at today’s event and represent the United Nations Population Fund. Special thanks to the Government of Turkmenistan, UN Resident Coordinator of Turkmenistan and UNECE for organizing this international seminar.


This year in March UNECE launched a first regional report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals to help further sharpen efforts as we have entered the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs. Accelerating the progress at the speed and scale to fulfill the global development agenda is becoming even more urgent now when the countries are coping with the impact of the global economic crisis from Covid-19 pandemic.


The choices that governments have to make today to restart their economies, including the long-term social and economic investments will be important in ensuring that they can build back stronger and better. These investment choices will also be consequential in defining what tomorrow looks like for all of us.


UNFPA embraces the vision set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the targets included in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This work supporting the governments is organized around three transformative people-centered results in the period leading up to 2030. These results include (a) ending preventable maternal deaths; (b) ending unmet need for family planning; and (c) ending gender-based violence and harmful practices, enabled by evidence and population expertise and empowerment of women and young people, especially adolescent girls.


The world will not achieve the transformative results by 2030 without substantially accelerating progress towards these goals. And now COVID-19 pandemic critically undermines progress made towards achieving these goals. Government coffers are being strained by the economic challenges as unemployment soars and tax revenues plummet in many countries.

Simultaneously, governments are taking unprecedented measures to limit the spread of the virus, while health and social systems are struggling to cope with rising caseloads, supply chain bottlenecks, movement restrictions and economic strains. The pandemic is disrupting access to lifesaving reproductive health and maternal health services due to the direct impact of the virus and the reallocation of limited healthcare resources. It is also compounding existing gender and social inequalities.


The acceleration in progress needed to achieve the Three Transformative Results will not happen without filling the resource gaps and stepping-up political commitment. Groundbreaking research undertaken by UNFPA and a number of world-renowned academic partners has for the first time determined a preliminary cumulative global price tag to achieve the three transformative results by 2030.


This analysis used aggregate country-level estimates from several different data sources, and was guided by tailored tools and clear methodology. It revealed that achieving the three transformative results by 2030 in 154 priority countries will cost a total of $264 billion. While this might seems a lot, think that the cost of ending preventable maternal deaths by 2030 in priority countries ($ 115 billion) corresponds to the cost of 46 of the most expensive military planes. Not only we know what needs to be done to achieve these three transformative results by 2030, but we also know that these investments can yield even greater savings including developing country investment cases and costing of the work of UNFPA country programmes. Simply put, investing in reproductive health is not only grounded in fundamental human rights, it also makes sound economic sense. For example, investments in improving adolescent physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health and reduction of road traffic injuries will show economic and social benefits at ten times their costs while similar returns on investment have been seen in analysis on maternal and newborn health, child health, immunisation, family planning, HIV/ AIDS, and malaria.  Every additional $1 invested in meeting the unmet need for family planning saves $2.20 in maternal health.


The transformative results need to be incorporated in public budgets and development cooperation efforts, with national governments playing their part. Early action by governments that demonstrate commitment to the three transformative results, identify areas where the government can make additional investments and also identify gaps where outside assistance is needed will mobilize and effectively target the most resources and help ensure success at the national level.


Our vision is that every country can build its own country investment case and as UNFPA we are ready to support governments in identifying the value of resources to be invested and the range of interventions required.


This is already the case in Turkmenistan where UNFPA is planning to develop a country National Investment Case in achieving the transformative result on family planning. This is important as Turkmenistan since 2017 covers the needs for modern contraceptives and other reproductive health commodities from its state budget, showing a clear commitment towards reproductive health which is at the core of achieving universal health coverage, meaning that everyone, everywhere should access essential high-quality health services without facing financial hardship. This not only saves lives but it also grows the economy, reduces poverty, promotes well-being of families, improves national security and safeguards the future of our planet.


In conclusion, we see the wealth of experience among SPECA countries opens enormous opportunities for cross-country cooperation and collaboration that can go far beyond economic growth and advance the region to a place of innovation for sustainable development.


Thank you for your attention!


Read the news release on UNFPA's participation at the international seminar: