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. 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.