Sexual and reproductive health programs in developing countries, also by the UN and NGOs, have one goal: that millions of women have access to family planning services, information, specialized health care and contraceptive methods. The pandemic led to the interruption of many of these plans, not only because the confinements to prevent the spread of covid-19 also prevented the travel of users to clinics and specialized entities, but also because the funds allocated to health and cooperation International organizations focused, especially between March and May 2020, on fighting the new coronavirus, neglecting other emergencies.
Soon the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sounded the alarm and containment mechanisms were put in place. However, nearly 12 million women in 115 countries did not receive these services last year, leading to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies. This week, the battle to guarantee these services to the female population takes a new breath of oxygen: UNFPA and the Gates Foundation will contribute more than 1,500 and 1,200 million euros respectively to the Alliance Family Planning 2030.
Last Thursday, in a virtual meeting to relaunch this platform of countries and organizations for the promotion of family planning, Melinda French Gates reflected on the achievements made in the nine-year history of the alliance, created in 2012. “Much has changed since we teamed up to launch FP2020. Today, 60 million more women and adolescents choose to use contraception than almost a decade ago; it is a great progress ”. But if before COVID-19 choosing not to have children was an odyssey for millions of women, the pandemic made it even more complicated. “It has caused millions of women to lose access to the contraceptive methods and family planning services that they tell us they need and want. And that, frankly, they deserve to have ”. She added: “Disruptions in maternal and newborn care have led to one of the most dramatic increases in maternal and newborn deaths in decades. It is tragic ”.
The pandemic has caused millions of women to lose access to the contraceptive methods and family planning services that they tell us they need and want.
Melinda French Gates
For her part, the newly appointed director of FP2030, Samukeliso Dube, remarked that family planning “is not only about bringing technology to a place, but that women have the power to decide.” The challenge for the next 10 years, he said, is to reach those who still cannot choose due to lack of information, freedom (in many contexts it is men who still decide on them) or access to specific tools. How will they reach those women? “The agenda is going to be decentralized and will fall to the regional centers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, to be closer to where the needs are. (…) Covid-19 has shown us the importance of recalibrating. We are seeing that there are some points that we have ignored and that there are still women who are dying ”, he explained.
Far from remaining in the speeches of lamentations or vague intentions, the forum brought together leaders of some countries benefiting from FP2030 support who also exposed their commitments. In this regard, seven African countries stood out.
Burkina Faso committed by 2025 to “guarantee the availability and accessibility of quality reproductive health information and services tailored to the needs of adolescents and young people in 100% of public health facilities,” the statement states. of the Alliance after the encounter.
For its part, Ethiopia reported that it will increase funding for family planning services “by continuing to allocate funds from the national treasury and the SDG common fund.” With this, they intend to reduce adolescent pregnancy from 12.5% to 7% by 2025 and 3% by 2030. Nigeria also promised its own funds, with the annual allocation of a minimum of 1% of the national and state health budgets, equivalent in set to 25 million euros.
Family planning, contraception, including postpartum and post-abortion services, should be recognized as essential health services
Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director
“Substantially increase the availability, quality and affordability of family planning services with the goal of ensuring the availability of family planning in 90% of public service delivery points by 2023,” Guinea told the meeting. Meanwhile, Kenya assured that it will increase “its prevalence rate of modern contraceptives for married women from 58% to 64%” and thus reduce the unmet need for them for all women, from 14% to 10%. In this sense, Tanzania’s plan is to lower the adolescent pregnancy rate from 27% to 20% and facilitate the use of modern contraceptives for all the female population that requests it. A goal to which it will allocate at least 10% per year by 2030.
Finally, among the countries highlighted for their commitments to the FP2030 Alliance, Uganda. This country aims to guarantee modern methods of contraception for 39.6% of Ugandan women by 2025, compared to 30.4% who currently have access.
“This brings the total number of commitments this November 2021 to 46,” the organization stressed. “The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of health and that global challenges require global solutions. The launch of Family Planning 2030 is an opportunity to expand and enhance our collaborative work in family planning that, along with contraception, including postpartum and post-abortion services, must be recognized as essential and critical health services to reduce inequalities. gender ”, commented Tedros Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO).
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.