Reproductive Health and Family Planning
Since 1994, family planning use has increased globally
from 55 per cent of married couples to around 61
per cent; it has grown by at least 1 percentage point
per year in 68 per cent of countries with available
data and by at least 2 points per year in 15 per cent
of these countries. Use varies regionally, ranging from
about 25 per cent in Africa to nearly 65 per cent in
Asia (where high use in China raises the average), and
70 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean and in
the developed regions.
However, many countries, particularly the poorest,
still have restricted contraceptive access and choice. When China (with a large population and high prevalence)
is left out of the calculations, only 46 per cent
of married women in Asia are using contraception. In
the least-developed countries, the average is much lower.
Government support for methods of contraception
—through government-run facilities, such as
hospitals, clinics, health posts and health centres,
and through government fieldworkers—has increased
steadily since the 1970s. By 2001, the governments of
92 per cent of all countries supported family planning
Contraceptive prevalence has increased in each
of 20 countries with two surveys since the mid-1990s,
from a starting average of 28 per cent to 35 per cent.
The proportion of desires being met by modern methods
increased in 19 of these countries,(4) where there
was an average 94 per cent increase among the poorest
fifth of the population. In ten countries, the
annual increase in met need for the poorest fifth
was higher than the national average.
COSTS AND BENEFITS OF CONTRACEPTIVE USE
At a cost of about $7.1 billion a year, modern contraceptive use currently prevents annually:
- 187 million unintended pregnancies;
- 60 million unplanned births;
- 105 million induced abortions;
- 2.7 million infant deaths;
- 215,000 pregnancy related-deaths (including 79,000 from unsafe abortions);
- 685,000 children losing their mothers due to pregnancy-related deaths.
There are some 201 million women with unmet need for effective contraception. Meeting their needs, for an estimated
annual cost of $3.9 billion, would avert some 52 million pregnancies
each year (half of which would be delayed to a later
time, in accordance with stated desires).
Preventing or delaying these unintended pregnancies would
- 23 million unplanned births (a 72 per cent reduction);
- 22 million induced abortions (a 64 per cent reduction);
- 1.4 million infant deaths;
- 142,000 pregnancy related-deaths (including 53,000 from
- 505,000 children losing their mothers due to pregnancy related-deaths.