Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Britain Contributes Millions for Family Planning

November 30, 2011

Family planning saves lives and leads to stronger economies. When we invest in family planning, we create a better future for women, children, families, and nations.

Providing access to family planning methods, including safe and effective contraception, allows women to plan for the families they want and provide greater opportunities for the children they have.  When women are able to avoid unintended pregnancy, they and their families have a much greater chance of living healthy, productive lives.

“Millions of unintended pregnancies occur every year because 215 million women who desperately want to delay or avoid pregnancy are unable to do so. For many, this amounts to a death sentence with a woman dying in pregnancy or childbirth every two minutes - 99% of them in the developing world,” said International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien at the start of this week’s International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar, Senegal.

In an announcement yesterday, Britain committed to “providing urgently needed contraceptive supplies” and contributing millions of pounds to the UN’s Population Fund (UNFPA) both of which will, says UNFPA’s executive director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, “…go a long way towards saving the lives of women and children, as well as to strengthening health systems and reducing poverty.”

Britain’s overall commitment to maternal health, notes the government’s Department for International Development (DFID), will directly contribute to preventing more than 5 million unintended pregnancies and to saving the lives of at least 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth and 250,000 newborns by 2015.

The International Conference on Family Planning is bringing advocates together in Senegal this week to share research, knowledge, and best practices with the ultimate goal of universal access to family planning. O’Brien took the opportunity to announce Britain’s most recent investment in maternal and newborn health as a component of a longer term goal.

“Giving girls and women the choice to decide whether, when and how many children they have is a priority for Britain. It means fewer women die in childbirth and the poorest families can make what little they have go further. Family planning is at the centre of all our development work and we are going to ensure more women are given the choices they want and deserve, “said O’Brien.

Melinda Gates strongly reinforced her own commitment to family planning as a top priority in a video address to conference attendees yesterday. She told the thousands of participants that, looking ahead, she’d be spending “a great deal of my time advocating for the 215 million women who don’t want to have a child but can’t access modern contraceptives.”

Gates added, “Governments should provide women with access to family planning tools that are safe and effective - and meet the needs of all women.”

 
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