UNITED NATIONS, New York –- First Ladies, health and finance ministers and parliamentarians from 12 developing countries meeting here today affirmed that voluntary family planning, secured by a steady supply of contraceptives, is a national priority for saving women’s lives. More than 215 million women in developing countries want to avoid or space pregnancies but are not using modern methods of contraception.
“As of October 31, the world will have 7 billion people, of which 1.8 billion are young people, and 90 per cent of them live in developing countries. That implies that 1 billion young women are actively seeking the information and service we are talking about here,” said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, in his opening remarks at the high-level meeting.
At the meeting, senior stakeholders from 12 priority countries will be showcasing their successes and brainstorming on strategies for ensuring even greater results in the future. The 12 ‘Stream One’ countries (Burkina Faso, Haiti, Ethiopia, Laos, Mali, Madagascar, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) are part of the Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security programme. Launched in 2007 by UNFPA and partners, the programme supports national efforts to ensure a reliable supply of reproductive health essentials.
“Collectively, we are changing the face of maternal and child mortality in Sierra Leone,” said the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma, during the opening session. “The high maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is partly due to the weak reproductive health commodity security system, including the non-availability of reproductive health commodities, lack of storage facilities, weak distribution systems for commodities and a weak logistics management system.” She noted that support through the global programme has “increased the uptake of family planning and other reproductive health programmes, such as fistula activities and the screening of patients for breast cancer.”
Dramatic increases in the use of modern methods of contraception are widely reported by countries participating in the global programme. In Niger, for instance, the contraceptive prevalence rate increased from 5 per cent in 2006 to 21 per cent in 2010. In Madagascar, it rose by 11 percentage points from 2004 to 2009, when it reached 29.2 per cent.
Supplies are reaching more people in the right place at the right time. In Burkina Faso, the number of health clinics reporting no shortfalls or stock-outs increased from 29 per cent in 2009 to 81 per cent in 2010.
Access to appropriate methods is improving. In Nicaragua, the percentage of service delivery points offering at least three modern methods of contraception increased from 66.6 per cent in 2008 to 99.5 per cent in 2010. Likewise in Ethiopia, the increase was from 60 per cent 2006 to 98 per cent in 2010.
Country-driven initiatives include training and computers for stronger supply delivery in the national health system, awareness campaigns and advocacy for national policies, strategies and contraceptive budget lines.
During today’s meeting, Dr. Osotimehin called on the 12 countries to put resources in their budget to meet the needs of their women and girls: “UNFPA will work with you to provide them with education, opportunities and access to information and services including reproductive health commodities – so that each young girl will be a fire, a multiplier, and will add value to the world in which she belongs,” he said.