The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) that took place in Kigali from 12th to 15th November, 2018 in Rwanda has brought to the forefront global issues facing progress on family planning. Countries have also recommitted to increasing funding, access to services and involvement of diverse communities in the family planning ecosystem.
The Themed “Investing for a Lifetime of Returns” the ICFP 2018 was co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Rwanda. The Conference pitched family planning as a development best buy, if the world plans to make notable progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As of July 2018, the total number of women and girls using a modern method of contraception in the world’s 69 poorest countries with Nigeria inclusive had grown to more than 317 million. This is 46 million more users than in 2012.
The use of contraception is growing fastest in Africa, with 24% of women of reproductive age now using modern methods. The number of women using modern methods of contraception in Nigeria grew by over 1.7 million, since 2012. Between July 2017 and 2018 in Nigeria, modern contraceptive methods prevented over 2 million unintended pregnancies, 735,000 unsafe abortions, and 12,000 maternal deaths. Despite this progress, only 13.8% of women aged 15-49 are using modern contraception in Nigeria, and 24.8% of married women in the same age group have an unmet need for modern contraception. These figures were revealed at the launch of the FP2020 Progress Report during the conference.
It was also stated that investments in family planning globally and in Sub Saharan Africa are critical and must continue to increase. Global donor funding has risen by 6% since 2016 from US$1.20 billion in 2016 to US$1.27 billion in 2017 according to the FP2020 Progress Report. Bilateral donations in 2017 were led by the U.S. (US$488.7 million), the U.K. (US$282.4M), the Netherlands (US$197M) and Sweden (US$109.2M). For African countries, domestic government spending on family planning in 2016 was led by Ethiopia (US$21M), Kenya (US$19M), and Zimbabwe (US$18.1M). Nigeria’s domestic spending on family planning in 2016 was $8.5 million.
“We are not the future. We are the present!” This was the call consistently echoed by youth advocates attending ICFP2018,
Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), also revealed that approximately 214 million women around the world who want family planning do not have access, and the amount of money it would cost to meet all women’s demands for contraception is $5.8 billion per year, more than what is currently being spent on family planning services. Beth Schlachter, Executive Director of Family Planning 2020, said women represent half of the world population, and that family planning empowers women and in turn allows them to contribute to the economy by joining the labor force, generating vast benefits across the society. The McKinsey Global Institute points out that if women were able to participate in the economy at the same level as men, it would add US$28 trillion to global GDP by 2025.