The London Summit on Family Planning, hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with UNFPA, national governments, donors, civil society organizations, private sector representatives, the research and development community, and many others, was held today.
The Summit called on governments, donors, and others to make financial and political commitments to increase the accessibility of family planning resources for women around the world. Current estimates find that 222 million women worldwide have an unmet need for contraceptives. Accessibility to contraceptives has been shown to decrease maternal mortality and infant and newborn mortalities by allowing women to space the births of their children further apart. Experts have explained that the risk of death decreases dramatically when there are at least two years between births.
Summit organizers believe that the political and financial commitments secured today will sustain coverage for the 260 million women who currently use contraceptives, and allow 120 million more girls and women to use contraceptives by 2020. This has the potential to reduce deaths of girls and women due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth by more than 200,000, and prevent the deaths of 3 million infants who would otherwise die in their first year of life.
Specifically, the summit called for action across several key areas: increasing support and demand for family planning; improving supply chains and service delivery; procuring commodities needed to allow countries to reach their goals; fostering innovation in overcoming family planning challenges; and promoting accountability through improved monitoring and evaluation.
Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about the importance of family planning from a perspective of human rights as well as finances, saying that family planning can aid in unlocking “the golden thread of development,” by creating smaller, healthier, and wealthier families and societies, and more empowered women.
Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield said, “If women can't plan their fertility, they simply can't plan their lives. We also know that family planning is the quickest, least expensive way to save women's lives from dying in pregnancy and childbirth. It's as simple as that.”
Throughout today’s agenda, full of discussions on service integration, equity and rights promotion, the role of public/private partnerships, and many other topics, governments and other partners announced their commitments to ensuring access to family planning.
Access to safe, effective methods of contraception is considered one of the most cost-effective investments a country can make in its future. Studies show that every $1 USD invested in family planning services yields up to $6 in savings on health, housing, water, and other public services.
The Summit received multi-faith support (PDF) from religious groups who called for "global priority to improve family health and well-being." Several countries announced commitments to family planning accessibility:
- Rwanda: committed to ensuring availability of Family Planning in 14,841 villages; supporting 45,000 community health workers to deliver family planning services; expanding existing information, dissemination and programs to the general public; increasing awareness of choices available; and introducing family planning services in every hospital and health system.
- Malawi: committed to increasing contraception rate by 60% by 2020, with a focus on ages 15-24, by raising the legal age of marriage to 18 and creating a specific family planning budget line in the national budget; strengthening sexual reproductive health programs for young people; and increasing family planning access through traditional and family structures.
- Zambia: committed to increasing contraception coverage to 58% across the country through policy change, increased budgetary commitment to family planning service by 100% and improved service delivery for at risk groups, and better use sub-district structures for service delivery.
- India: committed to free, culturally sensitive, country-wide family planning services, information, and supplies; adolescent empowerment; health systems strengthening at national, district, and sub-district levels; and internal resource mobilization to avoid dependence on external aid.
- Indonesia: committed to improving family planning clinics across the region by 2014; increasing access to family planning services in remote areas; ensuring free family planning services; including family planning within universal health insurance programs in 2014; increasing human resources investments to improve services; and, sharing successes, challenges and lessons learned with other G20 countries.
- Nigeria: committed to increasing contraception prevalence to 38% by 2018; increased spending to $8.5 million annually through 2018; developing complementary budgets for family planning service delivery and frontline health worker training.
Financial pledges and commitments by donors and developed countries amounted to more than $2.6 billion USD (PDF) to reach 120 million more women by 2020, and were made by the following parties (USD):
GOVERNMENTS & INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES
- Australia -- $59.5 million
- Denmark – $13 million
- European Commission -- $28.3 million
- France – $125 million
- Germany -- $122.3 million
- Korea -- $43.2 million
- Netherlands -- $160 million
- Norway -- $200 million
- Sweden -- $32 million
- United Kingdom -- $800 million
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) -- $378 million
- Aman Foundation -- $5 million
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- $560 million
- Bloomberg Philanthropies -- $50 million
- Female Health Company -- $23 million
CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
- Family Health International -- $1 million
- Merck for Mothers -- $25 million
Flickr photograph via DFID - UK Department for International Development