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Today is United Nations World Population Day. This year's theme: "Family Planning: It's a Right, Let's Make it Real." Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund explains the critical nexus between maternal health, family planning and poverty alleviation

Maternal death and disability could be reduced dramatically if every woman had access to health services throughout her lifecycle, especially during pregnancy and childbirth. Today millions of women lack access to health services, which puts their lives at risk.

Now is the time to accelerate action to ensure that health services reach women in the communities in which they live. Three reproductive health services are vital for maternal health: skilled attendance at birth, emergency obstetric care and family planning to time and space births.

Family planning is also essential to women’s empowerment and gender equality. When a woman can plan her family, she can plan the rest of her life. Information and services for family planning allow individuals and couples to realize their right to determine the number, spacing and timing of their children.

All true. Maternal heath is the foundation upon which other public health solutions in the developing world can emerge. Unfortunately, the United Nations says it has only received about half of the $1.2 billion necessary to provide critical maternal health and family planning services to the developing world this year.

Over at On Day One, users have their own ideas on how the next American administration can promote women's health across the world. Have your say.

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