UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Geri Halliwell to visit Zambia to support maternal health

LUSAKA, 9 November 2006 - The United Nations Population Fund's Goodwill Ambassador, British singer, Geri Halliwell (formerly of the Spice Girls), will visit Zambia from 14 to 16 November to promote greater international awareness of the urgent need to reduce maternal death and halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. Both aims are contained in the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the world's leaders in September 2000.

Ms. Halliwell arrives in the country on 14 November and will have a brief meeting with the Minister of Health, Angela Cifire, and pay a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mundia Sikatana.

Ms. Halliwell, who recently became a mother, will witness the life-threatening conditions in which poor women deliver babies, and support efforts to provide improved maternal health services.

"Every woman deservesto have herbabysafely,"said Ms. Halliwell."It is shocking that in this day and age, 1 in 6 women in the world's poorest countriesmay die in childbirth."

"Most of these deaths are preventable,all withsimple and affordable services," said Ms. Halliwell. "I look forward to this mission so as to witness and to express support for the prevention efforts possible in the developing countries. I want help empower women in Africa, as healthy and educated women have a direct effect on their economies."

During the mission, Ms. Halliwell will visit projects supported by the Government of Zambia and UNPFA that address maternal death and illnesses. She will go to urban and rural health facilities around Lusaka. The Goodwill Ambassador will also visit the North-Western Province and meet with some of the women who benefit from UNFPA-supported initiatives.

"I want to listen to these women, understand their needs and give them a voice from Zambia which is asking for help to make the world a safer place for mothers giving birth," said the UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador."Every motherwho dies in childbirth may leave behind an orphan. Every mother who dies is a death in our extended family, no matter where she happens to live in the world."

Ms. Halliwell was named UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador in October 1998 and works to promote UNFPA's campaign for reproductive health care and the empowerment of women throughout the world. She went on a mission to the Philippines in 1999 to support access to health services, especially for young people.

UNFPA supports Zambia in the fields of reproductive health and population and development strategies. The support includes training health workers and providing medical equipment and transportation. Skilled attendance at birth and quick transportation to maternal health facilities are among the most effective means of reducing deaths during pregnancy or childbirth.

UNFPA is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

For information, please contact: Abubakar Dungus, UNFPA, +1(212) 297-5031 or Omar Gharzeddine, +1(212) 297-5028.