You are browsing the archive for International FP 2012.

Perspectives on the London Family Planning Summit 2012: Seeing the Forest and the Trees

10:32 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Suzanne Ehlers for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

See all our coverage of the 2012 Global Family Planning Summit here.

Birth control pills

Photo: Brains the Head / Flickr

Albert Einstein once said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.” As we head into the July 11th London Summit on Family Planning, we can focus more on concepts than numbers, because we know this: 222 million women in developing countries want to avoid pregnancy, but lack effective contraception. The London Summit will aim to meet the contraceptive needs of 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries. These “new users” will cost an additional $4 billion in resources over the next eight years.

What we don’t know, or rather have a hard time remembering, is that opportunities like this can become their own special universe. More attention (and criticism) is placed on the inputs —- such as framing, messaging, and logistics –- than on the more important outputs, meaning those 120 million women and their needs.

First, this groundbreaking global convening is adding something substantial, so let’s calibrate our expectations while trying to hit it out of the park. Those close to the planning of the Summit have said from the beginning: July 11th is the promise; what follows is the fulfillment of that promise. I take this to mean that the real work happens after we leave London. This will be accountability for donors, follow-up on pledges, and the design of a funding mechanism that promotes and protects rights, access, equity, choice and quality of care.

I haven’t before seen an opportunity like this, and we must be unified behind our shared agenda that every girl and woman deserves the opportunity to determine her own future. It is up to us to talk about these interventions as life-saving for individuals, transformative for communities, and cost-effective and multiplier investments for nations. It is up to us to make it work, in real time, and in real terms.

Read the rest of this entry →

The 2012 Global Family Planning Summit: Will Issues Be Adequately Addressed?

11:08 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Marianne Møllman for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

A flower arrangement made from condoms.

Photo: Bill McElligott / Flickr

In mid-July, world leaders will gather in London to discuss a real and urgent need: increased funding for family planning. Over the past 15 years, the United States—one of the largest foreign aid donors in the world—has cut its funding level for family planning by at least 25 percent. Meanwhile, the demand for modern contraception and family planning information has only increased. By most accounts, an investment of approximately $6.7 billion is needed annually to meet current needs for family planning.

The summit documents, which is co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development and supported by the US Agency for International Development and the UN Fund for Population Action, link the dearth of contraceptives and health services to poverty: women in “rich countries” have what they need, whereas women in “poor countries” don’t. This notion is supported by the fact that over 99 percent of maternal mortality happens in so-called developing countries.

This vision is not so much wrong as it is incomplete.

In early 2010, the medical journal The Lancet published new research on maternal mortality and morbidity. The research showed that improvements in maternal health — a good indicator for women’s access to health services overall — depend on 4 key factors, only one of which has to do with family planning: 1) lower fertility; 2) higher education levels for women and girls; 3) rising per capita income overall; and 4) access to skilled birth attendants.

Importantly, both the Global Family Planning Summit and research published in The Lancet potentially obscure the fact that adequate access to contraceptives and health services is a question of income rather than geography. To be blunt, a wealthy woman in a poor country is likely to have better access to care than a poor woman in a wealthy country.

Read the rest of this entry →