Lancet Series Reviewing Family Planning Evidence Published On Eve Of London Summit

Lancet series on family planning, published Tuesday, “reviews the evidence for the effects of population and family planning on people’s well-being and the environment,” according to the series’ executive summary (7/10). One study in the series, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, “shows that fulfilling unmet contraception demand by women in developing countries could reduce global maternal mortality by nearly a third, a potentially great improvement for one of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” the New York Times reports (Tavernise, 7/9). A second study, led by John Cleland, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found “[c]ontraceptive use saves the lives of more than a quarter of million women each year, either from death in childbirth or unsafe abortions,” according to Agence France-Presse (7/10).

The series “comes ahead of a major family planning conference in London organized by the British government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that is an attempt to refocus attention on the issue,” the New York Times notes (7/9). UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin “told Inter Press Service that the meeting aims to provide greater visibility for family planning and to mobilize the political will and extra resources needed to give 120 million more women voluntary access to family planning by 2020” (McKenzie, 7/10). At the summit on Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, “are expected to announce substantial new funds for family planning programs, placing it at the center of future development policies,” the Independent notes (Lakhani, 7/10).