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November 29, 2011

Investing in family planning: Funds needed from all sources

 UNFPA's Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin (L) speaks with Minister Fada at the press conference

For Senegal’s Minister of Health and Prevention, Moudou Diagne Fada, family planning isn’t just a matter that affects his ministry. It’s an issue that has a major impact on Senegal’s future, he said.

“At the end of the day, family planning is a development issue,” Fada said at a press conference today at the International Family Planning Conference, adding that it touches on education, employment, and economics.

Fada said that is why Senegal’s president, Abdoulaye Wade, has pledged to double the government’s investments in family planning.

Fada said this will not only include an increase in contraceptives, but also will improve maternal health facilities and increase the number of midwives in health clinics. With these new initiatives, Senegal hopes to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate to 45 percent from 12 percent, and cut in half the maternal mortality rate from 400 deaths every 100,000 births to 200 deaths by 2015.

“African governments need to provide financing from their own pockets to provide family planning,” Fada said.

Developing countries still receive much support from donors for family planning initiatives. One major supporter is Great Britain.

“Giving girls and women the choice to decide when to give birth is a priority for the British government,” Stephen O’Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of the United Kingdom, said at the press conference.

Earlier today, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) announced increased funding for family planning through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). One large aspect of the investment will be rapid response to stock outs. DFID will give countries in danger of running out of contraceptives a six-month supply to ensure women and men continuous access to family planning services. Their funding also includes 35 million pounds to the Global Program for Reproductive Health Commodity Security.

Joint investments from developing and developed countries can further the agenda for family planning worldwide. When asked about political opposition to family planning, O’Brien said: “The question is not about politics. It is about what is the right health outcome and the right choice for women. That should counter any other argument. It’s about safe health for women.”

** This is another in a series of posts from the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar, Senegal.