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More family planning in countries hit by disaster, conflict

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 30 May 2013 16:41 GMT
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Pregnant women wait in line for tent distribution in Port-au-Prince, on Feb. 19, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The United Nations and the world’s largest reproductive rights organisation are expanding their services in more than a dozen countries recovering from disasters and conflicts so that up to 8 million more women and girls can access family planning services by 2015.

The U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) on Thursday said they aim to improve health infrastructure, boost the quality of healthcare workers, develop efficient distribution systems and ensure affordable supplies in these countries. 

“We know that 222 million women in the world today want family planning and they’re not getting it. So IPPF and UNFPA decided to we are going to take the bull by the horns and grab it,” UNFPA executive director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said on the last day of Women Deliver, a three-day conference focusing on the health and well-being of women and girls.

The work will target Bolivia, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Kenya, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, and the Pacific Islands.

“They are countries with low prevalence of contraceptive use and they have unmet need for family planning. Some of them, especially a country like the DRC, are in transition,” Osotimehin said. 

In an interview with Thomson Reuters Foundation on Tuesday, Osotimehin said scaling up access to family planning services and directing resources to those who need it most would save lives. 

IPPF currently provides family planning services to about 33 million women and girls around the world. 

“There cannot be meaningful development without sexual and reproductive health and rights,” its director general Tewodros Melesse said in a statement.  

UNMET NEEDS 

The new initiative is expected to provide family planning services that would benefit 650,000 women and girls in 2013, and up to 8 million by 2015. 

It would also contribute towards the goal of reaching 120 million more women and girls with family planning services by 2010, a target from the London Summit on Family Planning in July 2012.

At the summit, UNFPA committed to spending 40 percent of its funding on family planning, bringing new funding of $174 million per year. A substantial portion of this would go towards the new initiative, UNFPA said. 

It is unclear how much new funding the initiative will need as the UNFPA and IPPF are currently carrying out needs assessments in the targeted countries.

Youths, minorities and vulnerable populations with little access to family planning will benefit from this partnership, said a statement by IPPF and UNFPA. 

It said contraceptive use among migrants who come to Kenya through the northern border is 4 percent even though the national average is around 50 percent. In Ivory Coast, only a third of health facilities offer a choice of modern contraceptive methods. 

Making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs for maternal and newborn health care by $11.3 billion annually, according to The State of World Population 2012.

“I went to a country where the Minister of Health told me that 8 percent of pregnancy in the country occurs in teenagers below the age of 16, and 36 percent of the maternal mortality occurs in that group,” Osotimehin said. “So they are not getting services, and for that reason these young girls are dying. That is not acceptable.”

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