Cut on Trump's fund puts millions of lives at risk

Wednesday April 5 2017

United States President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC on March 28, 2017.  PHOTO | JIM WATSON | AFP

United States President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC on March 28, 2017. PHOTO | JIM WATSON | AFP 

By PAULINE KAIRU
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Millions of Kenyan women and children dependent on health care funded by a UN agency face a bleak future.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) receives funding from the United States, but Donald Trump’s administration on Monday announced that it will stop such donations.

The fund provides care on reproductive health, family planning, newborn health, HIV prevention services in more than 150 countries.

The US is the fourth-largest donor to the organisation and will cut $32.5 million (Sh3.3 billion) from the fund.

The population fund supports the government in free maternity service, maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response and renovation of maternity units.
Life-saving work

CALLS UNANSWERED

Calls to the fund’s Kenya office went unanswered by the time of going to press on Wednesday.

The fund has supported the Millennium Development Goal on sexual and reproductive health and reduced child mortality.

President Trump’s administration claims the organisation violates the 1985 Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which forbids US funding for organisations that support or participate in forced sterilisations and abortions.
The fund has said it is only involved in life-saving work.

ERRONEOUS CLAIM

“This decision is based on the erroneous claim that we are involved in the management of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation’ in China,” the organisation said in a statement on their website Tuesday.
“Our work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination,” the statement adds.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the funding cut would have devastating effects on the lives of women and girls around the world.

UNFP further said in the statement that it valued the US as a trusted partner and leader in helping to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

“We, therefore, look forward to continuing our work with the US to address these global concerns and to restore our strong partnership to save the lives of women and girls globally, within the framework of the global development goals, thereby leaving no one behind,” it said.