UNFPA Pacific Sub-Regional Office

Reproductive Health

Date: 23/07/2013

Reproductive health encompasses key areas of the UNFPA vision - that every child is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

The Reproductive Health status of its population is a priority for all governments in the Pacific. However, because many Pacific communities are social, heterogeneous in culture and very religious; sensitive issues of sexual and reproductive health are often challenging to address. In addition the geography of the region provides a unique challenge for the provision of reproductive health services and commodities, with the situation differing from country-to-country.

With the exception of Papua New Guinea, it is difficult to measure maternal mortality in Pacific Island Countries, whose populations are less than a million. This is because of the small populations and relatively uncommon occurrences of maternal death. Maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and absolute number of maternal deaths tend to be higher for the large Melanesian countries, as access to appropriately equipped and staffed birthing facilities is a major challenge, given the terrain and geographical dispersion of communities in rural areas.

Contraceptive prevalence rates (CPR) for all PICs remain below the developing country average of 62 percent. This emphasizes that there are a significant proportion of women and men who wish to determine the spacing and number of their children but are not currently using contraception. Determination of unmet need for family planning has not been made in many Pacific Island Countries given the relatively low priority given to universal access to contraception services for couples and women who would like to use them.

While teenage fertility rates (births to women 15-19 years/1000 women 15-19 years) have declined in most Pacific countries, rates continue to be well over 50 for some. High rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis among young people are prevalent in the region, while often due to poverty, girls and boys are increasingly being sexually exploited and abused. This highlights the need for even stronger focus on adolescent sexual reproductive health services and information.

Delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person's potential is fulfilled. Photo: UNFPA Pacific/Ariela Zibiah