Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Questions (44)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

44 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland has been invited to the family planning summit due to be held next month in London, hosted by the British Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the support of UNFPA and other partners; if Ireland has not been invited, if he will confirm if he or his officials have sought an invitation; if Ireland has not been invited and has not sought an invitation the reason he does not want Ireland to take part in the summit; and his views on whether it is incumbent upon him, as a signatory to the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and future board member of the UNFPA, to actively seek an invite to, and participate in the London Family Planning Summit. [32666/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The British Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have invited representatives of a number of Governments, international organisations, civil society and the private sector to a conference on family planning in London on 11 July. They have stated that they hope to launch an initiative to make affordable contraceptives, information, services and supplies available to an additional 120 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries by 2020. It is expected that participants will pledge significant resources in support of family planning initiatives. While Ireland has not been invited to participate in this pledging conference, we will continue our strong support, through the Government's aid programme, for family planning activities in developing countries and especially MDG 5 which aims to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health, including ante-natal care and family planning services. Ireland has a strong track record of support for family planning services, including support for global initiatives and at national level through Government health sectors. We also support the work of NGOs, which is complementary to this Government-level work, in order to increase access to family planning services.

Since 2006, Ireland has provided almost €30 million in support of the reproductive, maternal and family planning programmes of the UNFPA. Through a range of channels we have assisted access to family planning services in a number of countries where such services are considered inadequate, including in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Somalia. Ireland will continue to prioritise this work, and to work closely with the UNFPA and our partners in the developed and the developing world in order to ensure improved access to family planning services for women and girls in some of the world's poorest countries.