Reducing unintended pregnancies leads to fewer girls dropping out of school and greater opportunity to escape poverty. Use of contraceptives is one of the best investments a country can make if it needs development in its future.
Use of contraceptives in Tanzania in the last 20 years has tripled from 10 per cent in 1991 to 34 per cent in 2010. The problem is that twice as much use of family planning methods is among the women living in urban areas, using up to 38 percent as compared to those living in rural areas consuming only 19 percent.
The women in rural areas have an average of 6.1 children compared to that of urban, where the average is 3.7, which means it is the rural women which drives fertility rate in Tanzania. Fertility rate therefore must be addressed in rural women in developing countries, if the countries are to make progress.
President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has been invited to attend a London Summit, where a one-day Family Planning Summit will take place on July 11.
The Summit draws leaders from over sixty countries to join with major non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector to make firm commitments to address the global short-fall in family planning provision which leaves 215 million women worldwide without access to contraception.
Tanzania’s National Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan (NFPCIP) in 2010/11 estimated a need of 19bn/- to progress towards achievement of a 60 per cent contraceptive prevalence rate by 2015. The actual Tanzania government commitment for family planning in 2010/11 was only 3bn/-, merely 16 per cent of the estimated budgetary needs.
United Kingdom’s department for International Development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), with participation by other partners (including technical assistance from USAID), are sponsoring a high-level event in London on World Population Day, July 11.
The aim of the Summit, where President Kikwete and other are going to participate is to galvanize political commitment and financial resources from developing countries, donors, the private sector, civil society and other partners to meet the family planning needs of women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.
The ultimate goal is to ensure women in developing countries have the same access to life-saving family planning information, services, and supplies as women in developed countries.
More than 200 million women in developing countries who don’t want to get pregnant lack access to contraceptives. This is a life and death crisis. Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death for women in Africa.
Contraceptives save lives. Giving women and girls access to contraceptives is transformational and families become healthier, wealthier, and better educated. Reducing unintended pregnancies leads to fewer girls dropping out of school and greater opportunity to escape poverty. Contraceptives are one of the best investments a country can make in its future.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), contraceptives are cost-effective and deliver big savings in healthcare costs. Each dollar spent on family planning can save governments up to 6 dollars on health, housing, water, and other public services.
A new study by the Guttmacher Institute and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says costs and benefits of contraceptive services estimates for 2012 of women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraception declined only slightly. The study says between 2008 and 2012, it declined from 226 to 222 million, very minor difference.
The report finds that 645 million women of reproductive age (15–49 years) in the developing world are now using modern contraceptive methods, 42 million more than in 2008. However, in the 69 poorest countries, where 73 percent of all women with unmet need for modern contraceptives reside, the number actually increased, from 153 to 162 million women.
The study finds that about half of the increase is due to population growth rather than to a higher rate of contraceptive use.
Disturbingly, the increase in the number of modern contraceptive users between 2008 and 2012, roughly 10 million per year, was much lower than the annual increase between 2003 and 2008, which was approximately 20 million per year.
The overall proportion using a modern method among married women, who comprise 92 per cent of all modern method users, remained virtually unchanged between 2008 and 2012, at 56–57 per cent. However, there were significant regional variations.
Substantial increases occurred in Eastern Africa (from 20 to 27 per cent) and Southeast Asia (from 50 to 56 per cent), while there was little change in Western Africa and Middle Africa, regions where fewer than 10 per cent of married women use modern contraceptives.
“The desire to have smaller families is increasing in many parts of the world, yet many women are still unable to have the number of children they want when they want them,” said Dr. Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute.
“The gains that would result from providing quality contraceptive services to all women would more than outweigh the cost, but the current investment falls far short of what is needed to make this a reality.”
Providing the current level of contraceptive care in the developing world costs $4 billion annually and saves $5.6 billion in maternal and newborn health service costs. The report finds that fully meeting all need for modern contraceptive methods would cost $8.1 billion per year.
This additional $4.1 billion investment would save another $5.7 billion, or $1.40 for every dollar spent.
“Meeting the global demand for voluntary family planning will not only save and improve the lives of women and children; it will empower women, reduce poverty and ultimately build stronger nations,” noted Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA.
“The gap between the demand for family planning and the availability of services must be bridged, starting with the most vulnerable, poor women, rural women and young people, upon whom our future rests.”
The effects of filling the current unmet need for modern contraceptive methods would be dramatic. The unintended pregnancies would decline by two-thirds, from 80 million to 26 million, there would be 26 million fewer abortions (including 16 million fewer unsafe procedures) and there would be 21 million fewer unplanned births.
Other advantages include seven million fewer miscarriages would occur worldwide, pregnancy-related deaths would drop by 79,000 and most of these reduction (48,000) would take place in Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest levels of both maternal mortality and unmet need for contraception. Also, there would be 1.1 million fewer infant deaths.