• Blog post

    This post by Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), originally appeared on Devex. Babatunde and UNFPA are "calling for a youth goal to be included in the coming post-2015 development agenda" noting that by making "small investments in women’s and children’s health,...it would be possible to not only avoid unnecessary deaths, but also have healthier, more productive individuals, communities and countries." At the recent International Conference on Family Planning, there was much talk about the unmet need for family planning among young people. Ministers of Health from across Africa visited clinics around Addis Ababa and held an all-day meeting titled The Youth Dividend: Return on Investment in Family Planning. The solutions range from the grand policy solution to nuancing a media message. Free primary education is a preventive factor for early pregnancy, and has been implemented in Kenya and other countries. On a smaller scale, behavior change communications materials might benefit from using language other than 'family planning' when talking with young people who have an unmet need for contraception, but who are not thinking in terms of planning their families. What are the best ways to meet the unmet need for family planning among young people? Tell us in the comments.

    A mother and her newborn at a maternity ward in Dili, Timor Leste

    A mother and her newborn at a maternity ward in Dili, Timor Leste. Small investments in women's and children's health will yield a large return, according to the Global Investment Framework for Women's and Children's Health.

    Photo by: Ron Haviv / UNFPA


    A recent study published in The Lancet found that an increase of only $5 per capita per year in 74 of the poorest countries in the world can result in a nine-fold social and economic return.

    The Global Investment Framework for Women’s and Children’s Health — supported by the U.N. Population Fund, the World Health Organization and other partners — shows that small investments in women’s and children’s health will yield a large return. By making the additional investments needed for life-saving interventions, it would be possible to not only avoid unnecessary deaths, but also have healthier, more productive individuals, communities and countries.

    The social and economic benefits would include preventing the needless deaths of 5 million women, 147 million children, and 32 million stillbirths by 2035. Nearly all of the averted maternal deaths would be in low- or lower-middle-income countries, two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The benefits would also include greater GDP growth through increased employment, productivity and personal income.

    From UNFPA’s perspective, the framework touches a key development area: sexual and reproductive health. A key finding of the analysis reconfirms what UNFPA has always said — that reducing the unmet need for family planning is a primary driver of the benefits, accounting for half of all the deaths prevented in the accelerated investment scenario.

    The push by the international community to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health, including maternal health, is rightly putting family planning and choices at the heart of our combined efforts. And, to achieve and sustain inclusive development, we must also focus on young people, in particular young women and girls.  

  • Linking Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS, Gateways to Integration: A case study from Swaziland

    This case study (and related film), based in Swaziland, is part of a series of joint publications on strengthening linkages between sexual and reproductive health and HIV. Increasingly the first two prongs – preventing new HIV infections (Prong 1) and preventing unintended pregnancies in women living with HIV (Prong 2) – are receiving the recognition, commitment and programming support required to have an impact.

  • Blog post

    Family planning experts from USAID, UNFPA, WHO, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and 14 nongovernmental and private organizations met on July 9-10, 2012, ahead of the landmark London Summit on Family Planning, to review evidence around high-impact practices in family planning (HIPs).

    Mothers in Mozambique take their children for vaccination

    Mothers in Nampula, Mozambique take their children for vaccination.

    © 2003 Arturo Sanabria, Courtesy of Photosh

    Meeting at UNFPA headquarters in New York, the participants discussed evidence on eight specific practices that, when scaled up and institutionalized, will maximize investments in family planning programs:

    • Provide family planning counseling and services at the same time and location where women receive treatment for complications related to abortion. Many postabortion clients have a clear need and demand for family planning, and strong evidence demonstrates that providing family planning services at the same time and location where women receive postabortion treatment is feasible, acceptable, and effective.
    • Train, equip, and support community health workers (CHWs) to provide a wide range of contraceptive methods. CHWs can be an important means of reducing inequities in access to services, especially in areas where individuals face physical and social barriers to health services.
    • Provide a wide range of contraceptive methods through mobile outreach services—services provided by a mobile team of trained providers such as physicians and nurses, sometimes in a vehicle such as a van or bus that is equipped with clinic facilities. Mobile outreach provides services to women and men in the communities where they live and work, as do CHWs. While CHWs provide a limited range of contraceptive methods, such as oral contraceptives, condoms, and sometimes injectables, mobile outreach services have the added benefit of giving people direct access to long-acting and permanent methods (LAPMs).

  • Blog post

    On July 11, 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. Government—along with UNFPA and other partners—convened the high-profile London Summit on Family Planning. The overall goal of the summit, held on World Population Day, was to raise $4 billion to ensure that contraceptive information, services, and supplies are available to an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries by the year 2020.

    London Summit Themes

    Key themes that emerged during the London Summit on Family Planning.

    The meeting’s attendees included high-level government officials, donor organizations, health and development NGOs, faith-based organizations, and private institutions, among others. It brought together the worlds of policy, finance, commodity, and service delivery to discuss ways to make family planning a global priority – by revitalizing commitments to family planning, increasing access to contraceptive supplies, and removing barriers that prevent women from accessing these vital services.

    Reflecting the diversity of the attendees, speakers at the summit included representatives from governments, donor organizations, and private industry. A highlight of the summit was Melinda Gates’s speech during the afternoon plenary session. She began by announcing that the Gates Foundation will commit an additional $560 million dollars to family planning efforts between now and 2020 (twice what they are currently spending on family planning). Ms. Gates talked about the importance of world leaders committing to innovation on behalf of women. She encouraged leaders to think about family planning from the perspective of women, and that this would lead to real innovation.

  • Blog post

    As the seven keynote speakers from the London Summit on Family Planning disperse, there is a feeling of hope worldwide. Today, World Population Day, marked a great accomplishment for the women all over the world. An additional $4.6 billion was committed today for family planning, hoping to give 120 million more women and girls access to family planning information, services, and supplies. In the days leading up to the London Summit on Family Planning, Melinda Gates spoke about the goal for the summit to garner support for family planning from not only donor nations, but developing as well. With astonishing support from civil society, private sector, donor nations and developing nations, the goal of $2 billion from developing countries and $2.6 billion from donor nations was achieved - $3 million more than the intended goal.

    London Summit Commitments


    New Financial Commitments by Donors and Private Sector at the London Summit on Family Planning

    Keeping up with the live streaming video, the constant twitter feed (#FPSummit) and simultaneous tweetchat (#FPChat) was challenging. But the one thing that was constant through all the forms of media was the positivity. It was all over the posts to Facebook, Twitter feeds, and throughout the summit. The amazing positivity and enthusiasm that was expressed to improve the lives of women worldwide was moving. Improving the lives of those in developing nations will have a positive effect on all of our economies, health, and well-being.

    The Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, spoke about the need for aid transparency, a sentiment echoed by many of the other speakers. In order to uplift and empower the developing nations, we must let them make the change. Donor nations must help enable environments to support the change and increase in family planning.

  • Blog post

    I had the pleasure of attending a brown bag on July 5, entitled Revitalizing Global Family Planning: The Road to the London Summit by Dr. Oying Rimon, Senior Program Officer, Advocacy and Global Health Policy and Advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As you all hopefully know, the Gates Foundation and the UK government are planning The London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, with UNFPA and other partners.

  • Blog post

    This morning on the Marketplace Morning Report, interviewer Jeremy Hobson spoke with Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, about the controversy around contraception and the upcoming London Summit on Family Planning. Gates’s first statement pointed out that there are a staggering 200 million women who would like to have access to contraceptives but don’t. She added that these contraceptives have the ability to be “life-transforming” for these women. One main problem is the continued cuts to family planning budgets worldwide. Though contraceptives have been shown to be an important tool to improving health and development, they have been deemed a controversy and continued to have their funding cut. Hobson brought up the recent turmoil around contraceptives in the U.S., and Gates responded with an astonishing statistic, “99 percent of women -- say they use, in the U.S., contraceptives” and she added that women all over the world don’t have the same access as we do here.

  • UNFPA Add It Up Video

    UNFPA's video, "Add It Up"

  • Blog post

    A new study by the Guttmacher Institute and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reveals that the efforts of global family planning programs fall far short of what is needed to effectively address unmet need for family planning in the developing world. The authors of Adding it Up: Costs and Benefits of Contraceptive Services—Estimates for 2012 estimate that the level of unmet need for contraception—defined as the number of fecund, sexually active women who wish to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraception—fell only slightly from 226 million in 2008 to 222 million in 2012. Alarmingly, in the world’s 69 poorest countries—home to 73% of all women with unmet need—the number of women with unmet need for contraception has actually increased from 153 million to 162 million since 2008.

    Woman Unmet Need 1

    A smiling woman in Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania.  © 2011 Arturo Sanabria, Courtesy of Photoshare

    While the number of women in the developing world using modern contraceptive methods rose from 603 million to 645 million between 2008 and 2012, a closer look at these numbers reveals that more than half of this increase is due simply to population growth rather than to a higher contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR). CPR increased more noticeably during this time period in Eastern Africa (from 20% to 27%) and Southeast Asia (from 50% to 56%) than in Western Africa and Middle Africa, where little change was observed and fewer than 10% of married women currently use modern contraceptive methods.