Assistance by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities to mortality and health policy.
The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) assistance program encompasses basic data collection, population dynamics, formulation of population policies, implementation of general policies, family planning activities, communication and education programs, and special programs and multisector activities. This paper focuses on UNFPA assistance in the area of mortality. The Fund does not provide support for activities related to the reduction of mortality per se; rather, it contributes indirectly to the improvement of infant, child, and maternal health through assistance to family planning programs integrated with maternal-child health care. The types of activities UNFPA supports in this area include prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care of mothers and infants; infant and child care; health and nutrition education; promotion of breastfeeding; monitoring of infant malnutrition; and diagnostic studies and treatment of infertility and subfecundity. The Fund has cumulatively expended about US$87.3 million for activities in the area of mortality and health policy. The Fund is currently providing collaborative assistance to the World Health Organization and the UN for a comprehensive project aimed at measuring mortality trends and examining the roles of socioeconomic development and selected interventions in the mortality decline in certain developing countries. At present there is a need for research on the persistence of high mortality in the least developed countries, the early levelling off of life expectancies in many countries, and the determinants of socioeconomic differentials in mortality. Understanding of the mortality situation in many developing countries has been hindered by a lack of descriptive data on mortality by socioeconomic, regional, and occupational status. The real challenge lies in the implementation of policies designed to reduce mortality; political, managerial, and cultural factors unique to each country, as well as pervasive poverty, make this a difficult process.