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By Erin Phelan PINA Nius Online Special to the Pacific Islands Report

NADI, Fiji Islands (November 18, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---Teenagers, reproductive health and sex education are slated to become a top priority in the Pacific, thanks to a large donation from American billionaire Ted Turner.

Making the announcement at a regional meeting for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Jose Ferraris, UNFPA regional representative said the US$2.34 million dollars from the Turner Foundation is a huge boost for adolescent reproductive health in the Pacific.

The program will focus on education, awareness and services in reproductive health and sexual education. Beginning in 2000, it will be implemented throughout eight Pacific Island countries: Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Fiji.

UNFPA aims to assist Pacific Island countries in developing initiatives that will provide a comprehensive range of reproductive and sexual health information and services to adolescents and youth in the Pacific. Presently there is advocacy in these areas. However, rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies are cause for concern.

The UNFPA meeting has targeted education and information as central factors in slowing population growth – an area of concern for the Pacific Islands where a strain on resources is a potential problem if current growth rates continue.

UNFPA plans to include a parent communication program, recognizing the need to involve the family. In some Pacific Island countries – such as Fiji – parents will not allow their children to sit in classrooms when there is a lecture on sex education.

The reproductive health program will include activities with religious organizations. UNFPA has worked with the church in the Pacific for many years and there is great potential for church and family based activities to improve communication with adolescents in sexual education and reproductive health.

One year ago Ted Turner – a major shareholder in CNN news and owner of several cable television networks - established the Turner Foundation, committing one billion dollars to be spent over 10 years in United Nations cooperative projects. The announcement of fund allocation to the Pacific was made last week at their board meeting in Capetown, South Africa.

UNFPA will call upon community groups, organizations and other potential stakeholders active in youth and reproductive health in the Pacific to submit proposals to be implemented with this funding.

For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at 

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Damodar Centre, 1st Floor 46 Gordon Street Suva, Republic of the Fiji Islands Tel: (679) 303 623 Fax : (679) 303 943 Postal Address: PINA, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Islands Website: 

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