Family planning invaluable for developing countries, says UNFPA


Making family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce the cost of maternal and newborn healthcare by 11.3 billion US dollars annually, according to “The State of the World’s Population 2012” a report by the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA).
The report also stated that 222 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for family planning and an additional 4.1 billion US dollars is needed to address current needs and those of the growing youth population. UNFPA stated that increased access to family planning has proven to be a sound economic investment. One third of the growth of Asian “tiger” economies is attributed to a demographic shift in which the number of people who have income and are independent became higher than those who were depend on other people for support. The report states that the shift was a consequence of family planning and brought increased productivity leading to economic development.
“However, despite promises and resolutions and conventions that affirm the value of family planning, it remains out of reach for a staggering 222 million women in developing countries. There are many factors that contribute to this gap, limited availability of services, cost, and a host of conditions in the lives of women and men that prevent them from accessing sexual and reproductive health services. These barriers are limiting their rights,” stated Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA.
The benefit of family planning is not just economic, the report says that the cost of ignoring family planning incudes poverty, poor health and gender inequality. The report mentioned Malawi as an example of the cost of ignoring family planning which resulted in high numbers of pregnancies and HIV positive young and adult persons.
“Unchallenged, the lack of family planning can also lead to population pressures in poor countries struggling to meet basic human needs. We know that, without the means and the power to decide freely and responsibly how many children to have and when to have them, women are at greater risk of poor health and poverty,” said Babatunde.
The report states that governments, civil society, health providers and communities have a responsibility to protect the right to family planning for women, including those who are young and unmarried.
The State of the World’s Population 2012 report, under the slogan “By choice, not by chance” was launched on Friday November 16, 2012 at Sheraton Addis Hotel. It was accompanied by a painting exhibition by students from different art schools.