UNFPA, USAID team up to boost voluntary family planning

August 26, 2013 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, two of the longest-serving development agencies addressing population concerns, announced today new efforts to strengthen their collaboration to advance reproductive health, including voluntary family planning, worldwide.

With fewer than 900 days remaining until the end of 2015, the deadline set by the international community to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the two agencies will build on their work and expertise, accumulated over 40 years, to ensure women who want contraceptives can access them through: Coordinating supply planning to prevent organizations distributing contraceptives on the ground from running out of these life-saving commodities.

Addressing funding and technical assistance gaps to allow the two agencies’ country teams to smoothly implement national family planning and reproductive health plans. Joint analyses of progress and evidence-based recommendations for future direction – leading to improved collaboration between the two agencies’ country teams as we strive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly MDG5, and to input in the post-2015 development agenda.

“As the world’s leading organizations in advancing family planning and reproductive health, USAID and UNFPA have a special role to play in helping countries achieve MDG 5, to improve maternal health,” said USAID Administrator, Rajiv Shah. “We must leverage our history, comparative advantage and close collaboration to accelerate results and work to ensure sustained interventions under the emerging post-2015 agenda.”

This announcement is part of UNFPA’s and USAID’s joint commitment to support recent global initiatives in the area of reproductive health, including Family Planning 2020 and the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. By combining their distinctive comparative advantages and skills on the ground, UNFPA and USAID will support a more effective and efficient supply of reproductive health commodities and services.

“UNFPA has been working since 1969 to ensure that women are able to plan the number, timing and spacing of their children. We know that healthier women and girls have more chances of fulfilling their potential, which leads to wealthier, more productive communities and nations,” said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. “Universal access to reproductive health, which has only been added in 2007 as MDG target 5B, remains an unfinished agenda. This new push with USAID will help address that.”

Among the results achieved in recent years through development assistance in reproductive health, USAID and UNFPA consider increased contraceptive use in the developing world as one of the most relevant. Contraceptive use has risen from under one in every 10 women in the 1960s to more than one in every two women today. During that period, fertility rates have dropped from about six children per woman to some 2.7 today.

“By enabling healthy birth spacing, we know that family planning could prevent 1.6 million of the nearly 7 million child deaths under five that occur every year,” said Dr. Shah, “We must do more to improve access and use of family planning.”

“More than 222 million women in the developing world still lack modern contraception,” noted Dr. Osotimehin. “In 2010, more than 280,000 women still died from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. Most of these deaths could be prevented if women and girls had access to voluntary family planning. We must make sure that this remains a priority in the years to come.”