The British government has pledged to provide at least 1.6 million implants for women across the developing world to enable them decide for themselves whether, when and how many children to have.
The funding, which will be done through the UN’s Population Fund (UNFPA), will ensure women in countries such as Mali , where the prevalence of contraception is only eight per cent compared with 82 per cent in Britain , receive implants, which are long-acting but reversible methods of birth control.
Speaking ahead of the International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar on Tuesday in Senegal, Stephen O’Brien, Britain's International Development Minister, said Britain would also be backing a rapid response-style unit to procure and deliver up to six months worth of contraceptive supplies to countries where stocks are running out to give local providers an opportunity to find lasting solutions.
“Britain’s support with these contraceptives will prevent more than 2 million unintended pregnancies and avert nearly 220,000 unsafe abortions, many of which result in life-threatening complications such as severe bleeding and organ damage”.
The second International Conference on Family Planning, which begins from November 29-December 2, will bring together over 1500 experts to share research, best practices, and progress on national strategies to deliver family planning services, with the ultimate goal being universal access to family planning.
Mr O’Brien said British support to UNFPA was part of its commitment to enable at least 10 million more women and girls to use modern methods of family planning by 2015 to reduce the unmet need for family planning.
He explained that Britain’s overall commitment to maternal health would directly contribute to preventing more than five million unintended pregnancies and to saving the lives of at least 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth and 250,000 newborns by 2015.
“Family planning is a smart, simple and extremely cost effective investment of aid. It 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,” Mr O’Brian added.
The Minister explained that increasing access to quality family planning information, services and supplies would directly help girls and women delay their first pregnancy, prevent pregnancy in young adolescents, enable them make significant difference to girls’ life chances by allowing them to stay in school and complete their education.
He said millions of unintended pregnancies occur every year because 215 million women who desperately want to delay or avoid pregnancy were unable to do so.
“For many, this amounts to a death sentence with a woman dying in pregnancy or childbirth every two minutes – 99 per cent of them in the developing world.
“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”, he added.
The Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, expressed UNFPA’s gratitude for the new commitment by the British government to increase access to reproductive health services, especially voluntary family planning, worldwide.
"This generous contribution will go a long way towards saving the lives of women and children, as well as to strengthening health systems and reducing poverty. It also demonstrates the British Government's dedication to helping women and young people to forge a brighter future for themselves, their communities and nations."
Source: Linda Asante Agyei-Courtesy UNFPA, Sub-Regional Office, Senegal
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