Improving Family Planning Services in the SDGs Era
Family planning is a fundamental right that reinforces people’s rights to determine the number and spacing of their children. It is a well-known fact that ensuring women are able to plan whether or when to have children has substantial health and socio-economic benefits by reducing maternal deaths by 44% and empowering them to contribute fully in the sustainable economic and social development of their families, communities, and nations. Reports have shown that for every $1 spent on family planning, $6 is saved.
However, for millions of women in many countries, particularly in developing country, this has not happened because women still do not have the ability to control their reproductive lives due to several reasons including limited access and choice of contraception, poor quality of available services, users and provider’s bias, cultural or religious opposition and gender-based barriers. According to WHO, an estimated 225 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception. The unmet need for modern contraception among women of reproductive age is highest in Africa at 23.2%, particularly among adolescents and young women who are at a higher risk of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortions and face insurmountable challenges in accessing reproductive services.in Nigeria, only 15.1 percent of married women of reproductive age are using any contraceptive, with an unmet need of 16%.
Some benefits of family planning include:
Preventing pregnancy-related health risks in women.
Family planning prevents unintended pregnancies in young women who are at an increased risk of health problems and death from early childbearing as well as in older women who face increased health risks as a result of pregnancy. By reducing rates of unintended pregnancies, family planning also reduces the need for unsafe abortion. Family planning allows the spacing of pregnancies and allows women to limit the size of their families. This is recommended as studies have shown that women who have more than 4 children are at a greater risk of maternal mortality.
Helping to prevent HIV/AIDS
Male and female condoms provide dual protection against STIs including HIV, and unwanted pregnancies. Reducing unwanted pregnancies in women who are infected with HIV helps to reduce the number of babies born infected.
Reducing infant mortality
Ill-timed pregnancies and births contribute to some of the world’s highest infant mortality rates. Infants of mothers who die in pregnancy or childbirth are also at greater risk of death and poor health.
Empowering people and encouraging education
Family planning creates an opportunity for women to pursue additional education and participate in public life, including paid employment in non-family organizations. Additionally, having smaller families allows parents to invest more in each child, thus creating better opportunities for children to thrive.
In 2012, FP stakeholders worldwide assembled for a Summit in London to renew and revitalize global commitment to ensure that women, particularly those living in low-resource settings, have access to contraceptive information, services, and supplies by 2020, through Increased demand and support for family planning; increased government and donor funding; Improved supply chains and systems; Improved market dynamics, forecasting capacities and accountability at the global and country.
Therefore, we call on governments
To honor their FP2020 commitments to improving FP funding and services
To partner with donors and other non-governmental organizations to increase Financing for family planning at all levels
To strengthen primary health care facilities to provide FP counseling and services for increased access and improved coverage
To partner with non- governmental agencies and development partners to build the capacities of healthcare providers across all cadres so as to encourage task shifting/sharing to overcome human resource constraints
To strengthen country’s forecasting capacities and supply of FP capacities
To adopt innovative approaches such as community-based family planning services, involvement of men, traditional and religious leaders as family planning champions to break religio-cultural barriers
To continuously create awareness on family planning for women and families to make informed decisions on birth spacing.