12 June 2014

Deputy Secretary-General Says Population Award Reflects Commitment to Dignified Life for All, Fulfilment of Every Young Person’s Potential

12 June 2014
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Says Population Award Reflects Commitment to Dignified


Life for All, Fulfilment of Every Young Person’s Potential


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the United Nations Population Award Ceremony, in New York today:

Thank you for joining us at this important event.  This year’s award ceremony comes at a critical time, as we mark the twentieth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Plan of Action adopted in Cairo in 1994.  This landmark conference produced a strategy that focused on meeting the needs of individual women and men, rather than on simply achieving demographic targets.  This year we are reviewing the progress made and looking at what we need to do beyond 2014.

This year is also a crucial time for the global development agenda, as we approach the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, and as we shape our post-2015 agenda and goals.

So this is also an excellent occasion to reaffirm the ICPD’s core message: individual dignity and human rights are a foundation for sustainable development.

The UN General Assembly Special Session on Population and Development this September will provide an opportunity to use the Cairo agenda as a key building block to move towards a more sustainable future.

The United Nations Population Award celebrates the work and dedication of people and groups which are saving lives and supporting advances in public health.  One of them is Father Aldo Marchesini of Italy.  Father Marchesini is both a medical doctor and Catholic priest.  He has been deeply involved in population issues for 43 years, often during conflict. 

In 1974, after surgical training in Uganda, Father Marchesini went to Mozambique, a country that would soon be plunged into two civil wars, and a country whose people he still serves today.  In Mozambique, Father Marchesini worked in the most impoverished areas.  Soon after his arrival, he started treating obstetric fistula, a debilitating post childbirth condition that affects women in poor countries, lacking in health care.  For many years he was the only doctor treating fistula in Mozambique, often having to do his own fundraising to cover not only the treatment of patients, but also their transportation, meals and clothes.

Father Marchesini’s service has gained him recognition from the people of Mozambique and Southern Africa and across the world.  He has received numerous awards — and now we here at the UN are proud to honour him.

I congratulate Father Marchesini and thank him for his leadership, commitment, and inspirational work, which has saved so many women’s and girls’ lives.  Father, your example gives me faith that we will be able to conquer the scourge of obstetrical fistula within our lifetime.

Let me also congratulate this year’s institutional laureate, Jhpiego, originally known as the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

Jhpiego was founded in 1973 to prevent maternal death and has since then provided assistance in over 150 countries.  Jhpiego has conducted training for more than half a million health professionals in family planning and reproductive health.

Jhpiego’s focus areas include maternal and child health; family planning and reproductive health; HIV prevention, care and treatment; prevention and treatment of cervical cancer; urban health; and contraceptive innovations.  It is a recognized leader in integrating family planning into maternal and child health service.  Jhpiego richly deserves our praise and admiration.

The Population Award is an expression of our joint commitment to ensure a life of dignity for all and build a world in which every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

The untiring work of Father Marchesini and the huge contribution made by Jhpiego embody these goals.  Please join me in honouring and celebrating their achievements and offering our warmest congratulations.  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.