Family Planning Services Promote Well-Being of Women, One Pill at a Time
Family planning, which involves the information, supplies and services that enable families to decide when and whether to have children, is heralded as one of the most cost-effective public health advancements of the last century. For every dollar spent on delivering these services, countries can save up to 6 dollars by preventing unintended pregnancies that end up costing significantly more (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2013). It is cheap, effective, easy to administer and has countless benefits for the reproductive health of women and men, not to mention for their children and community.
It is estimated that 222 million women, the majority of whom live in developing countries, would like the opportunity to make informed decisions on whether and when they get pregnant, but lack access to these simple, yet powerful tools. This unmet need contributes to an estimated 80 million unintended pregnancies, 30 million unplanned births, and 40 million abortions each year.If $8.1 billion were invested in voluntary family planning in low-income countries over the next year, there would be significantly fewer unintended pregnancies, maternal deaths, infant deaths, and unsafe abortions (Singh & Darroch 2012). In fact, earlier this year, Bloomberg Philanthropies, set up by former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, committed $50 million to support family planning, targeting the high unmet need for contraception. More recently, the International Planned Parenthood Federation launched the “idecide” campaign to garner support among world leaders for reproductive health rights beyond 2015 when the Millenium Development Goals expire.
Investing in a woman’s ability to choose when she has children is “essential to securing [her] autonomy and well-being” (WHO 2013). Birth control allows women to space their pregnancies, prevent high-risk pregnancies, limit family size, and delay pregnancy until her education is completed. By spacing births and having the desired number of children, mothers are able to invest more in each child, securing future prosperity rather than poverty for her children.
Lindsay Mgbor/Department for International Development. 2012. The time is now – mums waiting for family planning services. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/crXq1W*
Lindsay Mgbor/Department for International Development. 2012. Brenda’s daughter Sara, 2 years old. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/cqxSKW*
Singh, S. & Darroch, J. E. (2012). Adding it Up: Costs and Benefits of Contraceptive Services. Retrieved from: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/AIU-2012-estimates.pdf
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2013). Family Planning Strategy Overview. Retrieved from: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Family-Planning
World Health Organization. (2013). Family Planning. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs351/en/
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