Family Planning Summit Next Month 'Could Mark Turning Point For Maternal Health'

In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin discusses a family planning summit to be held in London next month, writing the UNFPA “is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.” He writes, “More than 200 million women, largely in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can’t access them,” and continues, “Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths.” The summit, co-hosted by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “will be launched to meet this unfilled need for modern family planning in developing countries by tackling the estimated $3.6 billion (£2.3 billion) annual shortfall in investment (.pdf),” he adds.

Noting “[t]he summit’s aim is to mobilize the political will and extra resources needed to give 120 million more women access to family planning by 2020,” he writes, “Having spearheaded the fight to extend voluntary family planning to all who want it, we at UNFPA are excited by the potential of this initiative.” He continues, “UNFPA already spends about 25 percent of its entire program resources to help governments buy family planning supplies and improve services,” but “by reshaping our priorities and programs, we plan to increase our program spending to about 40 percent.” He concludes, “Through our collective efforts with the U.K. government and the Gates Foundation next month, there is a real chance this ambition will become much closer” (6/7).