Millions of Women in Poor Countries Lack Access to Contraception

While more than three hundred million women and girls in the world’s sixty-nine poorest countries are using modern contraception today, another two hundred and twenty-five million still lack access to birth control, a report from Family Planning 2020 finds.

According to  FP2020: Momentum at the Midpoint 2015-2016 (HTML or PDF, 139 pages), more than 30 percent of women and girls in East and Southern Africa are using modern contraception, while in West Africa, where contraceptive use historically has been low, the nine countries in the Ouagadougou Partnership reached their collective goal of adding a million users of contraception between 2011 and 2015 and are working to add another 2.2 million users by 2020. The report also found that more than 230 million users of modern contraceptive methods live in FP2020 focus countries in Asia, and that modern contraceptive use between July 2015 and July 2016  averted 82 million unintended pregnancies, 25 million unsafe abortions, and 124,000 maternal deaths in the sixty-nine countries studied.

Of the three hundred million women and girls in the poorest countries using modern contraception, 30.2 million have gained access to their preferred method since 2012, the year FP2020 was launched with the goal of reaching a hundred and twenty million additional women and girls by 2020. At the 2016 midpoint of the initiative — which works with governments, nonprofits, multilateral organizations, donors, the private sector, and researchers to address barriers to contraceptive use — the efforts has fallen  some 19 million women and girls behind its target goal.

To accelerate progress toward that goal, the report calls on stakeholders to boost their spending on evidence-based interventions and investments in modern contraceptive methods; sharpen their focus on country-level goals, challenges, and avenues for improvement; boost their support for interventions that span multiple countries; and support interventions that address the discontinuation of use.

"Addressing the financing gap for family planning programs, ensuring a sufficient and diverse supply of contraceptives, and improving the visibility and tracking of domestic and donor funding alike continue to be central priorities for our entire sector, including and importantly through the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) Supplies Program," said FP2020 executive director Beth Schlachter. "With renewed momentum, we have the opportunity and the obligation to reach the hardest to reach, including young people, the poorest, the marginalized, and the most vulnerable and to ensure that all programs and policies are grounded in the principles of agency, access, availability, and quality of care."