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Health News of Wednesday, 25 January 2023


Despite COVID-19, new report shows increase in contraceptive use

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Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on national health systems and global supply chains, many people globally continue to demand and use family planning products and services.

This was according to the 2022 measurement report on Family Planning (FP) released on Wednesday by FP2030, a global initiative.

The report, which was first previewed in November 2022 at the International Conference on FP, indicates that the use of modern contraception is soaring around the world.

It shows that an estimated 371 million women of reproductive age in low- and lower-middle-income (LMIC) countries are using a modern method of contraceptive as compared to 87 million more than just a decade ago.

Findings from the report further show that one in three women of reproductive age in LMIC is choosing to use modern contraception.

The report noted that throughout restrictive lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, record numbers of people globally continued to find ways of accessing FP services.

Overcoming challenges

Speaking at a press briefing to highlight the findings of the report, the Executive Director of FP2030, Samukeliso Dube, said the past 10 years have been full of obstacles for health systems.

Ms Dube said these obstacles– wars, political upheavals, natural disasters, deadly disease outbreaks, and lately the COVID-19 pandemic, have made it difficult for people to access health services.

She, however, said despite these challenges, women globally have continued to seek out and use modern contraception in ever-growing numbers.

Ms Dube said the latest report shows how unstoppable the demand for modern contraception is, as women want to control whether and when to have children, and how many children to have.

“Family planning is the key to reducing maternal deaths; it is the difference between finishing high school and entering into early marriage and parenthood; and it can unlock a woman’s economic survival and prosperity,” she said.

She said family planning is about expanding the ability and freedom of individuals to exercise power in their own line.

High demand in sub-Saharan Africa

The new report analysed the use of contraceptives in 15 African countries; Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

It shows that contraceptive use among married and unmarried sexually active women aged 15-24 is generally higher in Eastern and Southern Africa than in West Africa.

It, however, indicates that unmet need is still high in both regions and for both populations. In most of the 15 countries reviewed, more than one in five sexually active young women (aged 15-24) have an unmet need for contraception.

The Senior Director of Data and Measurement, FP2030, Jason Bremner, said there is still much work to be done when it comes to meeting the needs of women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr Bremner said if rising demand is not met by high-quality services, consistent contraceptive supplies, and supportive policies and financing, it will be a missed opportunity for millions of women.

He said the report also found women’s marital status to influence the method of contraceptive use.

“Young married women aged 15-24 were found to rely on short-acting methods such as injections and pills and obtain these from government facilities, while most unmarried sexually active women aged 15-24 rely on condoms and obtain these from private health sources,” he added.

Stepping up progress

Ms Dube, the executive director of FP2030, said failing to adequately fund FP efforts would be a missed opportunity for millions of women.

She said the world need not only to hold the line but also to secure new funding to accommodate the surge in demand for family planning.

“The hard-won gains of the last 10 years could slip away if we don’t act now,” she said.

Ms Dube reiterated that this is the time “to go bigger, to be courageous, and ensure the existence of reliable, robust, stable funding streams to finance FP programme.”

She pointed out that donor government funding for family planning is not keeping up with the growing demand for modern contraception.

She said while bilateral donor funding totalled approximately US$1.4 billion in 2021, this was essentially flat compared to 2020 and substantially lower than the peak achieved in 2019 (US$1.52 billion).

“Given current financial instability and inflationary trends around the world, there could be further funding cuts in the future,” she said.

About FP2030FP2030 is a global initiative that supports the reproductive rights of women and girls. It is the successor to FP2020, an initiative that ran from 2012 to 2020.

Over the course of those eight years, FP2020 emerged as the central platform for family planning, providing an unparalleled space for stakeholders to convene, align, share knowledge, broker resources, and advance the field. FP2030 builds on and expands that work.