24 Apr 2015

UNFPA urges modern contraception access for Pacific

4:39 am on 24 April 2015

The United Nations Population Fund says improving access to modern contraception is essential for young women, and particularly young couples, in the Pacific.

Pacific populations are increasingly young.

Pacific populations are increasingly young. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

A US $4.5 million fund was recently set up by the New Zealand government, with the aim of improving sexual and reproductive health in Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The UNFPA's Pacific Sub-Regional Office is managing the fund, and its director, Laurent Zessler, says these countries have been chosen because they face a high level of teenage pregnancy.

He says sometimes healthcare workers need further training to make services more user-friendly for the young population.

"It's important that young women are pregnant by choice, and not by chance, and young couples can make informed decisions. And sometimes we see that access to contraception is in relation to married couples, it's a challenge to make sure that also unmarried couples have access to modern contraception."

Dr Laurent Zessler says the fund is also looking to improve sexual health education in schools.