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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Women's Wellness Center
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, April 19, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Minister Nazirov. This Wellness Center is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished through U.S.-Uzbek cooperation. I am looking forward to being able to tell our First Lady, Hilary Clinton about how her project has grown.

President Karimov and the government of Uzbekistan have recognized maternal/child reproductive health as national priorities, and made a commitment to invest considerable resources into them over the next decade. The United States is supporting that effort through USAID, the American International Health Alliance, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Women's Wellness Center that is opening today, like the first center that opened three years ago, will deliver comprehensive, quality health care and help women to meet the challenges to health posed by pregnancy and childbirth.

This Center is a good example of why the United States Government needs to restore its full funding for international family planning. As President Clinton and I have noted on many occasions, including together at a White House event two weeks ago, family planning is a vital international health issue. In developing countries, among women of reproductive age, maternity-related complications are the leading cause of death. As many as one in every four of these deaths could have been prevented through family planning.

As Secretary of State, I have had the opportunity to meet with women's groups in a score of countries around the world. Over and over again, I have heard the same clear message. Women want to have choices, not only about what jobs we have, and how we live, but also about how we plan our families. We want to decide for ourselves how we can best contribute to our communities.

These aspirations by themselves would be enough to warrant our support. But I strongly believe that family planning assistance is not just the right thing to do, it's also the smart thing to do, and it should be an essential element of our foreign policy. Because when women have the knowledge and power to make our own decisions, whole societies benefit. This is how the cycle of poverty is broken, and socially constructive values are more readily passed on to the young. So I am proud that the United States remains the world's largest single country donor to family planning programs, and of our long-standing support to the United Nations Population Fund.

Today I bring you support in a practical way, by giving you a television and VCR to use in your educational programs. And I congratulate the Second Tashkent Medical Institute, the Uzbek Ministry of Health, and the Tashkent City Administration for making this center possible. The United States is proud to be associated with this undertaking.

Thank you very much.

[End of Document]
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