Today, 214 million women of reproductive age in developing countries want to avoid or delay pregnancy but do not have access to modern contraceptive methods. In his keynote speech, deputy prime minister and minister of development cooperation, Alexander De Croo, reiterated the Belgian commitment to promote family planning so every woman and girl can decide whether, when and with whom she has a baby, and be able to prevent any unwanted pregnancies.
Family planning funding gap
Brian McKenna of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition pointed to the $322 million funding Gap for family planning supplies if the current trajectories of growth of contraceptive use continue in 135 low- and middle-income countries.
Rutendo Kuwana, working with the WHO Essential Medicines Department, elaborated on a study showing the low quality of Reproductive health medicines in a number of low income countries. He stressed the need to collaborate constructively with the main producers of generics, such as India and China.
Successes and challenges in access to contraceptives
Ben Light from UNFPA gave more information on UNFPA Supplies, the largest UN fund dedicated to family planning, responsible for 40% of the global contraceptive procurement for developing countries. Contraceptives provided by UNFPA have prevented an estimated 63 million unintended pregnancies, 1.1 million maternal and newborn deaths and 19 million unsafe abortions over the last decade. Despite these remarkable figures, 45% of women in Sub-Saharan Africa still pay for contraceptives themselves.
Other speakers of MSD for Mothers and Marie Stopes International showcased a number of good practices in ensuring access to family planning whereas Elise Van Belle from Memisa underscored that well-trained health workers also play a key role in ensuring access to reproductive health services and supplies.
The speakers concluded their presentation by identifying a number of policy recommendations for Belgium’s development cooperation. The seminar brought together researchers and practitioners who exchanged insights and shared good practices with regard to ensuring access to a full range of affordable, high-quality reproductive health supplies in low- and middle-income countries.