Access to Contraceptives Improving in Poor Countries, Report Finds

A global public-private partnership to expand access to voluntary family planning is making progress toward its goal of providing high-quality contraceptives and services to an additional hundred and twenty million women and girls in the world's poorest countries, a report from Family Planning 2020 finds.

According to the report, Partnership in Progress: 2013-2014, 8.4 million more women and girls in the sixty-nine targeted countries were using modern contraceptives in 2013 than in 2012. While the number was below the projected benchmark of 9.4 million, expanded access to family planning is estimated to have helped women and girls avoid 77 million unintended pregnancies, up from 75 million in 2012; 125,000 maternal deaths, up from 120,000; and 24 million unsafe abortions, up from 23 million.

Launched as a result of conversations at the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, which was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of the United Kingdom, FP2020 works with governments, nonprofits, multilateral organizations, donors, the private sector, and researchers to address the policy, financing, delivery, and sociocultural barriers that prevent women from accessing contraceptive information, services, and supplies. In 2013, donor governments provided $1.3 billion for family planning programs, a nearly 20 percent year-over-year increase, with the United States contributing $585 million, or 45 percent of total bilateral funding, followed by the UK, at $305.2 million (23 percent). In addition, five more developing countries committed to the effort in 2013, bringing the number of partner governments to twenty-nine, with more commitments expected before year-end.

"Countries are stepping up their commitments to provide girls and women with the information and tools they need to plan their families and their futures," said Chris Elias, president of global development at the Gates Foundation and co-chair of FP2020's Reference Group. "We must use the data and lessons learned from the past two years to focus our efforts on high-impact interventions that unlock a virtuous cycle of prosperity for families and entire communities."

"Deciding about pregnancy should be by choice, not by chance," said Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund and co-chair of FP2020's Reference Group. "We welcome the contribution of FP2020 to ensuring that more women and girls have the information and means to realize this basic human right. Family planning is one of the best investments that we can make to boost women's empowerment, gender equality, sustainable development, and creating the future we want."