The 2016 International Conference on Family Planning, convened in Nusa Dua, Indonesia in late January, brought together more than 3,000 researchers, practitioners, policymakers, donors, and advocates. If you weren’t able to participate, here are four important takeaways those of us working in maternal health need to know.
- Family planning and maternal health are inextricably linked, and our communities of practice must be too. Each day, more than 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these deaths could be avoided if women had access to contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy and increase the amount of time between pregnancies. Family planning must be an essential part of antenatal and postnatal care, and a conversation about contraception should be part of any clinical encounter with women of reproductive age.
- Various factors affect discontinuation of contraception. Nearly 30% of women who stop using contraception for reasons other than wanting to get pregnant cite concerns related to health service quality including lack of method choice, stock-outs, and ineffective referral systems. Quality matters across the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) continuum.
- Young adolescents bear the biggest burden of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, the second leading cause of death globally among girls aged 15-19. Delaying the age of first pregnancy would reduce maternal and newborn mortality as well as improve the health and well-being of young girls.
- Improved tracking is needed. USAID and UNFPA have called for a new indicator to be added to monitor progress towards Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages. In the words of Ellen Starbird of USAID, the new measure – percent of demand satisfied by modern contraception – is “a measure of what women are doing, rather than what women should be doing.”
To read more reflections from the 2016 International Conference on Family Planning, visit the ICFP2016 Crowd360 digital hub.