Today marked a historic day for women and for the globe as the UK Family Planning Summit wrapped up on London gathering more than $4.3B in pledged funding for family planning. As the twitter streams and #FPchat and #FPSummit can attest, the Summit drew widespread involvement-- and a lot of enthusiasm. A number of key reports were generated taking stock of the family planning landscape in the weeks preceding this Summit. Save the Children produced a report entitled Every Woman's Right. They begin with the following statistics:
-220 million women have an unmet need for family planning
-500,000 newborn babies and 79,000 mothers would live if family planning were available to them
-60% greater risk of death to women age 18 and under as compared to older women
Johns Hopkins reports that several East African countries have made dramatic progress increasing access and use of family planning services, among them Rwanda, Malawi and Ethiopia, where the contraceptive prevalence has more than tripled in just 10 years. It makes sense to focus on the phenomenal successes in increasing access to contraception. In May, the first ever Resolve Awards were announced recognizing leaders from Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal, and Rwanda through the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health via the Aspen Institute.
-Nepal has increased births in hospital from 18% to 33% through the use of cash incentives for pregnant mothers and the elimination of user fees at delivery.
-Malawi increased use of modern contraceptives dramatically from 7% in 1992 to 46.1% in 2010.
- Rwanda has quadrupled its contractive prevalence rate from 10% in 2005 to 45% in 2010, and has reduced its fertility rate by more than a third (from 86 per 1000 live births to 50) and maternal mortality by half (from 750 per 100,000 live births to 50).
-Ethiopia, the second most populous nation in Africa, has doubled its use of contraceptives from 15 % to 29% and cut average desired family size from 6-7 to 3-4.
Not only is family planning a human right and an important antidote against poverty, it is also a way to reduce maternal mortality. A brand new article in The Lancet by Amy Tsui estimates that reducing the unmet need for family planning could reduce maternal mortality by one third.