03/07/2016 02:58 EST | Updated 03/07/2016 02:59 EST

Liberals Commit More Money To Maternal Health, Including Contraception


OTTAWA — The federal government will contribute $76 million to the United Nations Population Fund to increase access to maternal, newborn and reproductive health services in developing countries and add $5 million for contraceptive supplies.

Maternal and newborn health was a major initiative of the former Conservative government, although it steered clear of supporting abortion and contraception.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says Canada is committed to universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights.

The latest announcement includes a renewed commitment to support the UNFPA's contraceptive supplies initiative, a long-term program to help prevent adolescent pregnancies in Honduras.

Money is also allotted for a major midwifery initiative in South Sudan, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

Bibeau says the idea is to provide a more comprehensive approach to supporting the health of women in developing countries.

"We also believe that programming decisions on these matters should be driven by evidence and outcomes, not ideology," she said in a statement.

Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the population fund, said the Canadian contribution will ensure that more women survive childbirth and fewer girls are subjected to early pregnancy.

"When women and girls are able to exercise their rights and live in health and dignity, their families, communities and nations prosper."

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