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Counting the Cost (And Benefits) of Family Planning

June 25, 2012 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap

The following article is provocative for several reasons, not least of which is the string of comments appearing below it. It was published on The Guardian’s website. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/sarah-boseley-global-health/2012/jun/20/maternal-health-contraception-and-family-planning

Note: to access the Guttmacher report referenced, please proceed here (PDF): http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/AIU-2012-estimates.pdf

Counting the cost of family planning

As the London family planning summit looms closer, the debate begins over how much money is needed, what it should pay for and whether the fundamentally important issues of women’s reproductive rights will be addressed.

Posted by Sarah Boseley

Wednesday 20 June 2012 10.45 EDT  

A new report from the Guttmacher Institute in the US ahead of the family planning summit next month in London assesses the scale of the unmet need for contraception. Pretty huge, is the bottom line. The report is full of facts and stats. It says that the number of women who would like to avoid having another baby but who are not using modern contraception (that means injectables, condoms, pills etc) is now around 222 million. That’s only a slight improvement on the picture in 2008.

There are 42 million more women using modern contraception than four years ago – now a total of 645 million of reproductive age – but most of the increase is down to the growing population of 15 to 49-year-olds, says the report.

This report puts numbers and dollars into the frame ahead of the summit where the Gates Foundation, DfID and others will be hoping big fat money pledges will be made, in the same way that the vaccines summit in London attracted massive donations – more money was raised than was hoped for.

So the calculation goes like this. At the moment, $4bn is spent on family planning in the developing world every year. That saves $5.6bn which would otherwise have been spent on women and children through unwanted pregnancies and births. Meeting the total need for contraception would cost double current spending – $8.1bn, says the report. But that would also more than double the savings from unwanted pregnancies to a total of $11.3bn. That is $1.40 for every dollar spent.


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