In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Megan Averill and Tricia Petruney, senior technical officers with FHI 360’s Global Health, Population and Nutrition Group, and Ward Cates, president emeritus at FHI 360, discuss the “domino effect” of family planning. “We’ll begin with a simple and intuitive causal relationship: voluntary use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancies,” they write, and highlight a number of benefits they say stem from this relationship. They conclude, “Until now, too few people have been aware and too few leaders willing to acknowledge the essential role that family planning plays in achieving sustainable development. Rio+20 is our chance to tip this pivotal domino piece forward, and witness the measurable cascade of progress it evokes” (6/18).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
Representatives meeting at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Tuesday “announced that they have reached an agreement [.pdf] on the outcome document,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The agreed outcome document spells out action points such as the need to establish sustainable development goals and mobilize financing for sustainable development, as well as the promotion of sustainable consumption and production,” according to the news service (6/19). The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” notes that “paragraph 145 reads: ‘We emphasize the need for the provision of universal access to reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health and the integration of reproductive health, in national strategies and programs'” (Ford, 6/20). The following summarizes an opinion piece and blog post addressing the outcome document.
“In the 1990s, when the U.S. shifted its aid policy away from family planning, and from Latin America, the Brazilian NGO Bemfam found itself with a yearly funding hole of $2 million,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports in a profile of the NGO and family planning in Brazil. But the organization, which focuses on family planning and sexual and reproductive health, used $3 million in drawback funding from USAID to “set up a not-for-profit condom and lubricant business, Prosex,” the newspaper writes. The company “has proved so successful that it generates around $4 million a year for the NGO — about 40 percent of its funding — and is the fifth most popular condom brand in Brazil,” according to the newspaper. Bemfam “provides sex education to young people, promotes sexual and reproductive rights, and provides family planning services and counseling,” the Guardian writes (Ford, 6/20).
“As the London family planning summit looms closer, the debate begins over how much money is needed, what it should pay for and whether the fundamentally important issues of women’s reproductive rights will be addressed,” Sarah Boseley, health editor of the Guardian, writes in her “Global Health Blog.” Highlighting a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, which “assesses the scale of the unmet need for contraception,” she writes, “This report puts numbers and dollars into the frame ahead of the summit where the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], [Department for International Development (DfID)], and others will be hoping big fat money pledges will be made, in the same way that the vaccines summit in London attracted massive donations — more money was raised than was hoped for.”
Family Planning Summit Offers Opportunity To Integrate Reproductive Services With HIV, Other Health Initiatives
Noting that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. government will co-host an international family planning summit in London in July, Gavin Yamey of the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco; Craig Cohen, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services at the University of California; and Elizabeth Bukusi, chief research officer and deputy director of research and training at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, write in a BMJ commentary, “More than 120 million women worldwide aged 15-49 years have an unmet need for family planning, which is due a renaissance after years of neglect.”
In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, Deputy Editor Tom Murphy discusses the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative, which “support[s] the aggressive reduction of maternal mortality in countries with the highest mortality rates.” He notes that the “founding partners include the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), Merck for Mothers, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), Every Mother Counts (EMC), and the Government of Norway,” and that they have pledged $200 million over five years. Murphy outlines the objectives of the initiative and highlights some of the comments made at its launch last week during the Child Survival Call to Action summit (6/19).
“USAID promotes Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy as a vital family planning intervention that helps ensure that pregnancies occur at the healthiest times in a woman’s life,” Maureen Norton, healthy timing and spacing technical adviser for USAID, writes in USAID’s IMPACTblog. “A USAID analysis found that, by preventing closely spaced births, family planning could save the lives of more than 1.6 million children under five annually,” she notes. Norton outlines “three key programmatic actions to strengthen family planning as an essential intervention for child survival,” including educating families on pregnancy timing, expanding the type of available contraceptives, and enacting “policies to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.” She concludes, “Increasing access to family planning is essential to help women … and their children survive and stay healthy” (6/19).
In this post in the Guardian’s “Development Talk Point” series, contributors Claire Provost and Jaz Cummins ask readers to weigh in on the issue of family planning and development, asking, “How has such a taboo topic become a global priority? What’s driving world leaders’ growing interest in women’s bodies? And what’s at stake in these debates?” They write, “We’ll discuss these questions — and more — in this month’s global development podcast, and are looking for your comments to shape the discussion” (6/19).
More than 100 world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, are meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week for Rio+20, the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, to address ways to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. The following blog post, opinion piece, and press release address health aspects of the conference.
GlobalPost Blog Examines Large-Scale Public Sector Condom Distribution Campaigns In U.S. Versus Abroad
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog profiles Washington, D.C.’s public condom distribution campaign, the Rubber Revolution Campaign, one of only a handful of large-scale public sector condom distribution campaigns in the U.S., and examines why public sector condom campaigns are more common outside of the U.S. “In other parts of the world, public sector condom campaigns are standard, [according to Michael Kharfen, bureau chief of partnerships and community outreach at the D.C. Department of Health], while in the United States they are primarily run through non-profit organizations,” the blog writes, noting, “Kharfen added that there is a lesson to be learned from other countries’ efforts to promote condom use through social marketing and public education.”