07 June 2012

Family Planning Summit Could Mark Turning Point for Maternal Health

Executive Director talks about links between family planning and maternal health

More than 200 million women, largely in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can't access them. They may face cultural barriers or family resistance. Contraceptives may not be available in their communities or they may not have the money to buy them, or there is a lack of information or trained workers to give advice. The result is human misery on a huge scale – and a major brake on our development hopes.

Next month in London an initiative will be launched to meet this unfilled need for modern family planning in developing countries by tackling the estimated $3.6bn (£2.3bn) annual shortfall in investment (pdf). The family planning summit is being co-hosted by the UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.

Read the full editorial here.

Children and women in Mugunga, near Goma.  UNFPA aims to give 120 million more women access to family planning by 2020. Photo: Junior D Kannah/AFP/Getty