New Commitments Announced at ICFP 2013 Will Bolster Contraceptive Access and Choice in Countries With High Unmet Need

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By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultant

This week, as donors, health program leaders, researchers, policy makers and advocates from around the world are meeting at the International Conference on Family Planning in Addis Ababa to discuss evidence, programming and policy priorities for achieving the goal of “full access, full choice” for family planning.  Some of the biggest news from the conference has been in the area of commitments to the FP2020 agenda, which was launched at last year’s London Summit on Family Planning. FP2020 released the first progress report on the initiative, highlighting developments such as commitments, accountability, innovation, collaboration and the agenda for evaluating progress that have emerged since the initiative.  What is more, the report release coincided with new commitments from five countries with some of the world’s highest levels of unmet need for family planning . From FP2020:

 “Over a year ago in London, the global community declared women’s health and well-being an urgent priority. Today, we are seeing words translate into action,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, and Co-Chair of the FP2020 Reference Group. “What’s most encouraging is that the countries taking the greatest steps toward improving access to modern contraceptives, including through increased domestic resources for family planning, are the countries where family planning choices have been the most limited.” National Plans, Donor Resources, Civil Society Partnerships Underpin Progress The new national family planning pledges announced at ICFP 2013 focus on policy, financial and service delivery commitments that are critical to increasing access for more women and girls. These include: • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government will use domestic resources for the first time to purchase contraceptives. •In Guinea, funds will be used to recruit thousands of health workers who can deliver family planning in rural areas, as has proven successful in other countries like Ethiopia. •Myanmar will implement a monitoring system to strengthen quality of care and ensure women have a full range of contraceptive options. •Beginning in 2014, the government of Mauritania will commit to allocating health commodity security funds for family planning and, along with its partners, commit to mobilizing additional resources for the implementation of its national family planning action plan. •By 2015, Benin will ensure that modern methods of contraceptives are available without cost and that reproductive health training is provided for adolescents and youth. Countries currently make up one-third of the more than 70 commitment-makers to FP2020. Progress is being led by national governments, in collaboration with civil society organizations, service providers, advocates, industry leaders and experts. One-quarter of FP2020 commitment-making countries have launched detailed, costed national family planning plans. One-third of commitment-making countries have increased their national budget allocations for family planning services or supplies.