On the eve of the London Summit for Family Planning, The Lancet published a series of articles and commentaries that explores the links between contraception, population growth, and the health and wellbeing of the planet and its current and future inhabitants. The series reviews an array of evidence on the toll that lack of access to family planning takes not only on maternal and child health but also on the social, economic, and environmental health of communities, nations, and the world.
A mother in Abuja, Nigeria reads a family planning and child spacing brochure to learn about contraceptive options available in the area.
© 2012 Kim Blessing/JHU∙CCP, Courtesy of Photoshare
Those who work in family planning are well aware that national political will and international support for contraceptive programs has waned in recent decades. This neglect has perpetuated a continued lack of access, particularly in low-resource settings where the consequences are most dire. The Lancet’s series examines the potential of family planning to advance global health from so many angles that even readers whose careers are devoted to the cause will gain fresh perspective and new insights.
The rebirth of family planning: Herbert Peterson of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, who led the planning, commissioning, and preparation of the series, and Richard Horton of The Lancet identify two central challenges to addressing unmet need: stronger advocacy to policymakers to devote more attention to family planning and translating the scientific evidence presented in this series into innovative programs that are implemented well to achieve universal access to reproductive health.
Making family planning a national development priority: Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, Prime Minster of Rwanda, and Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, credit five factors with increased contraceptive use in the successful case studies of Rwanda and Ethiopia over the past decade: