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World Population Day 2013 Celebrated

The World Population Day 2013 was jointly celebrated at a ceremony on Monday, 8 July, by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME), the National Organization for Civil Registration (NOCR) and UNFPA. The event was held at the International Conference Center of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. The World Population Day (WPD) is annually held on July 11 across the globe, but due to the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, I.R. Iran celebrated the occasion a few days in advance. The 2013 theme of WPD in Iran was chosen to be "Adolescent Reproductive Health"; slightly different from the global theme of "Adolescent Pregnancy".

Participants were from MOHME, the NOCR, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, academics, Representatives of United Nations agencies and int’l community, and other relevant organizations. Speakers included H.E. Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi, a member of the Council of Experts; H.E. Hassan Tarighat-Monfared, the Minister of Health and Medical Education; Dr. Nazemi Ardakani, the Head of NOCR; Dr. Rakhshani, Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. M. Hulki Uz, UNFPA Representative and Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator.

In her remarks, Dr. Rakhshani referred to the recent discussions on I.R. of Iran’s new population policy, stating that there have been many meetings in the Government of Iran to review the population policy. She further praised UNFPA for providing technical assistance to these discussions.

Minister of Health and Medical Education Dr. Tarighat Monfared

The Minister of Health and Medical Education reiterated that the population control programmes of Iran have been implemented too quickly and have gained too much momentum. He said that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Iran has dropped from over 6 to 1.8. However, the current aim of the Government is to raise the TFR to 2.1, which is the replacement level. He stressed that there is a need to take maximum care of mothers and children, but that there is no need to stop pregnancies.

In his speech, H.E. Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi elaborated the importance of having a population of high morals and high quality. Drawing references from the holy Quran and Islamic teachings, H.E. Ayatollah Haeri-Shirazi highlighted the importance of moderation in all programmes. He mentioned that effectiveness is about the interaction of quality and quantity. He further advised the MOHME to provide awareness to people and to allow people to be completely free in their decisions.

Dr. Nazemi Ardakani introduced the NOCR and its activities and presented some vital statistics. He underlined that NOCR has more than 900 offices throughout the country which record vital statistics. Around 800,000 marriages are recorded by NOCR annually. Furthermore, 1,400,000 births are registered, of which 95 per cent are recorded in hospitals.

UN Resident Coordinator in the Islamic Republic of Iran Mr. Gary Lewis

UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis also acknowledged Iran’s remarkable progress in the past decades in achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals – especially those relating to maternal mortality and female literacy. Mr. Lewis further underlined the importance of sharing Iran’s experiences and achievements in the area of health with nations around the world – particularly Muslim countries – within the framework of South/South cooperation.

UNFPA Representative in the Islamic Republic of Iran Dr. Hulki Uz

UNFPA Representative Dr. M. Hulki Uz shared global data on adolescent pregnancy, mentioning that 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth each year. He further stated that complications from pregnancy continue to be the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.

Dr. Uz also highlighted the adolescent pregnancy rate in Iran, which - based on NOCR reports - was 8.3% in 2011. The number of births for mothers below the age of 15 was 1,666 in 2011. Then he quoted the statement of UNFPA’s Executive Director.

Finally, Dr. Uz called for the continuation of the effective collaboration between the Government of Iran and UNFPA. Following a short break, two simultaneous technical panels were held for the participants. The first panel discussed adolescent pregnancy from different perspectives and the second panel primarily focused on policy making and planning in the area of reproductive health services for young couples.

The moderator of the first panel, upon conclusion of the discussion announced that a comprehensive panel report will be prepared by the MOHME. He said that more roundtables and consultations will be held in the coming months to further discuss the issue of adolescent health.

The second panel was concluded with a brief discussion with audience on issues such as access to reproductive health commodities in some provinces, the role of the Ministry of Education in the area of population issues and creating awareness among students, and also existing limitations in some schools for training students on reproductive health issues, services and commodities.

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