Low levels of modern contraceptive use and high rates of unintended pregnancy are taking a toll on Burkinabe women, their families and the national health care system.
A new report, "Benefits of Meeting the Contraceptive Needs in Burkina Faso," released today by the Guttmacher Institute and the Institut de Recherches en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS), documents the current state of family planning in the country and the considerable health and financial benefits that would result from increased investment in contraceptive services.
Today, an alarmingly high proportion of Burkinabe women—more than 64%—have an unmet need for modern contraception; that is, they want to avoid pregnancy, but either do not practice contraception or use relatively ineffective traditional methods. Approximately 70% of these women want to postpone a birth for at least two years, while 29% want no more children.
According to the new report, roughly one-third of all pregnancies in Burkina Faso are unintended, which contribute to the country’s high rates of maternal mortality and ill-health: Approximately 3,600 women die every year from maternal causes; nearly 25% of them had not intended to be pregnant. Furthermore, 87,000 Burkinabe women who experience unintended pregnancies have abortions every year, and approximately 43% of them suffer complications serious enough to require facility-based care.
The new analysis shows that if the need for modern contraceptive methods were fully met, the results would be dramatic: There would be nearly 232,000 fewer unintended pregnancies than currently occur, which would reduce unplanned births and unsafe abortions by 85–87%. Furthermore, maternal deaths would drop by 700 per year.
Meeting just half of Burkinabe’s women's unmet need for modern contraceptives—that is, providing modern methods to 50% of the women who wish to avoid a pregnancy but currently use no method or use an ineffective method—would also result in significant health benefits. There would be nearly 116,000 fewer unintended pregnancies—a 46% decline from current levels—which would mean 63,000 fewer unplanned births, 37,000 fewer induced abortions and 350 fewer maternal deaths than currently occur.
Meeting women's need for modern contraceptives and reducing unintended pregnancies also saves money, most immediately by reducing spending on maternal and newborn health costs. Meeting half of the need for modern contraceptives would result in net savings of US$18 million (FCFA 8.6 billion), while fulfilling all unmet need would generate a net savings of $32 million (FCFA 15 billion).
“Ensuring that Burkinabe women have full access to family planning services allows them to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. It improves their health, their productivity and their ability to care for their families,” said Dr. Danielle Yugbaré/Belemsaga of the IRRS and coauthor of the report. “It also makes perfect economic sense, in that the money saved by averting unintended pregnancies can be reallocated to other critical areas and ultimately accelerates Burkina Faso’s ability to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Funding for family planning programs is not a cost, it is an investment. One that can truly transform the future of the nation”
The full report and a detailed appendix are available at www.guttmacher.org. The high rate of return on investments in contraceptive services documented in "Benefits of Meeting the Contraceptive Needs in Burkina Faso," echoes findings from similar analysis conducted by the Guttmacher Institute and partners in Uganda, Ethiopia and the Philippines and builds on a growing body of cost-benefit research conducted by the Institute.
Facts on women’s contraceptive needs in Burkina Faso
About 64% of Burkinabe women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using any contraceptive method or are using less effective traditional method.
Approximately 70% of women wanting to avoid pregnancy want to postpone having a child for at least two years, while 29% want no more children.
One-third of all pregnancies in Burkina Faso are unintended.
Each year, approximately 87,000 Burkinabe women who experience an unintended pregnancy have a clandestine, typically unsafe abortion; 46% of them suffer complications serious enough to require care at a health facility.
Approximately 3,600 Burkinabe women die every year from maternal causes, and nearly 25% of them had not intended to be pregnant.
Unmet need for modern contraception is greatest among poor women. Among Burkinabe women wanting to avoid a pregnancy, about 90% of those who are poor are not using modern family planning, compared with 36% of those who are wealthy.
Unmet need for modern contraception varies widely by region, from 37% in Centre to 85% in Sahel.
If the need for modern contraceptive methods were fully met, there would be nearly 232,000 fewer unintended pregnancies. This would reduce unplanned births and abortions by 85–86% and maternal deaths by 700 per year.
Meeting just half of Burkinabe women's need for modern contraceptives would result in 116,000 fewer unintended pregnancies—a 43% decline from current levels—which would mean 63,000 fewer unplanned births, 37,000 fewer induced abortions and 350 fewer maternal deaths.
Meeting half of the need for modern contraceptives would also result in net annual savings of US$18 million (FCFA 8.6 billion), while fulfilling all unmet need would generate a net annual savings of $32 million (FCFA 15 billion).
Expanding family planning services would save lives and improve the well-being of Burkinabe women and their families. It would also saves money and accelerate Burkina Faso’s progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
Source: New York: Jessica Malter [email protected] Tel: +1 646.315.2216
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