Daily Digests: Postpartum Family Planning Global Meeting

From June 7-11, FP2020, in technical partnership with Jhpiego, hosted 175 participants from 20 countries to accelerate efforts on the implementation of postpartum family planning (PPFP).  Forty presenters from around the world discussed state-of-the-art technical knowledge and programming experience in PPFP. Interactive learning sessions, small working groups and country-specific action plans for PPFP were developed over the course of the week.

Catch up on the action with FP2020’s daily digests, which highlight key moments, fast facts and resources:

The rights way forward for international family planning programmes

Sadly, it often takes a heartbreaking human tragedy, such as the recent sterilization deaths of more than a dozen women in India, to remind us of a principle that simply cannot be emphasized enough: each and every family planning programme must have human rights as its anchor and guiding light. Every woman, regardless of her socio-economic status and where she lives, should have the right to access high quality medical care and a method of contraception that she wants and accepts voluntarily. But for hundreds of millions of women and girls around the world— reality falls far short of the ideal.

Without access to modern methods of contraception, women are often consigned to a cycle of repeat pregnancies which have a debilitating effect on their health over time. Many resort to unsafe abortion, which costs thousands of lives annually. Young girls fall pregnant before their bodies can cope physically, placing their lives at risk; and early motherhood also prevents many girls from accessing education, which puts them and their families on the path to a life of poverty and deprivation.

That is why our hope is that by the end of this decade, Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), a global partnership established after the ground-breaking London Summit on Family Planning in 2012, which is dedicated to improving access to voluntary family planning information and services, will have brought modern contraception within reach of an additional 120 million women and girls.

Those of us who work in family planning understand very well that quotas and targets are anathema to any rights-based programme. So let us be clear: reaching 120 million women and girls with voluntary access to contraception is not a quota and it is by no means a target. The numeric goal is a benchmark of progress, but it is surpassed in importance by the narrative we aspire to shape. Family planning is ultimately about making sure that every woman and every girl has the right, and the means, to take charge of her own life—to grow, to thrive, and to plan the family she wants.

For the past year, FP2020 has been working with global partners to develop the Rights and Empowerment Principles for Family Planning. Informed by human rights principles, the Statement proposes illustrative examples for how to operationalize rights in the areas of policy and programming, measurement and markets. These principles are important to ensure that all family planning programmes, from global initiatives to community-based projects, keep human rights and the dignity and empowerment of women and girls at their very core. 

Rights-based family planning programmes require a standard of medical care. For some, this will involve re-imagining the approach to family planning – by treating contraception as part of an individual’s decision and overall health care. A woman who wants to delay or prevent pregnancy shouldbe able to choose freely from a variety of contraceptive methods—pills, IUDs, implants, injectables, condoms and other options—so she can make a decision about what fits best with her current life stage and reproductive plans. Equally important is the premise that she receive care from medical personnel that are qualified and trained to provide family planning counsel, supplies and services.

Every country committed to working with FP2020 commits itself to embracing a rights-based approach to serve its citizens. But intentions, no matter how good, simply aren’t enough. Putting human rights at the centre—and making sure they stay there—must be a collective public effort. We need everyone involved and on the same page: government officials, healthcare workers, civil society advocates and the private sector. Rights violations must be brought to light and addressed whenever and wherever they occur. Open discussions must be held so we can understand how and why violations take place, and more importantly, how they can be prevented. Programmes must be specifically designed and implemented to respect, protect, fulfil and advance rights.

There is an urgent need for constructive dialogue to establish a future where all women and girls have the freedom to decide for themselves whether and when to have children. The news is promising on this front – our partners have made significant progress in ensuring women’s rights remain at the centre of family planning programmes. The three newest country governments that have so far pledged to achieve FP2020’s vision – Burundi, Cameroon and Togo – must embrace the rights based approach to family planning and frame the development and implementation of their strategic plans using these principles, putting women and girls’ rights at the heart of their service delivery models.

On Human Rights Day this week, and over the course of the days ahead, we shall celebrate the achievements of partners throughout the world in advancing women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment through expanding access to family planning. It is the work of governments, donors, civil society and advocates that has brought the advances we have seen in the past years. Our work is far from over, but we have seen the ways that collaboration and commitment can make a difference for individual women and girls. And today we also celebrate the women and girls who are the heart of our movement: not as targets, but as partners, and as the most important agents of change in their lives and their communities. 

Elizabeth Schlachter is the interim executive director of Family Planning 2020 and Poonam Muttreja is executive director, Population Foundation of India and FP2020 reference group member. An edited version of this article appeared on Trust.org 


Every Woman, Every Child

Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, Every Woman Every Child  is an unprecedented global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world. The movement puts into action the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which presents a roadmap on how to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service on the ground for the most vulnerable women and children.

Every Woman Every Child provides a new opportunity to improve the health of hundreds of millions of women and children around the world, and in so doing, to improve the lives of all people. The health of women and children is critically important to almost every area of human development and progress, and directly impacts our success in achieving all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted by world leaders in 2000.

Research has conclusively demonstrated that the health of women and children is the cornerstone of public health. Healthy women and children create healthy societies. Healthy societies, in turn, are the foundation upon which nations build successful economies and create prosperity for their people. And prosperity, as we know, is essential to political stability and social harmony. 

Every Woman Every Child recognizes that all actors have an important role to play in improving women’s and children’s health. More than $40 billion was pledged at the 2010 launch, and numerous partners have made additional, and critical, financial, policy and service delivery commitments, but more help is needed. The Secretary-General is asking the international community for the additional commitments necessary to take Every Woman Every Child past the tipping point. This would mean saving the lives of 16 million women and children, preventing 33 million unwanted pregnancies, ending stunting in 88 million children, and protecting 120 million children from pneumonia by 2015.

This is an enormous and unprecedented undertaking. The stakes are high, and the cost of failure is great. But the rewards of success are greater still. They include a better life for all of us, and a healthy future for women and children everywhere.

Please explore these pages with the desire to ensure that every woman and every child have the same opportunities for health and life and ask yourself what you can do. – See more at: http://everywomaneverychild.org/about/what-is-every-woman-every-child#sthash.GQpJIl7q.dpuf

Tanzania Parliament Passes Policy to Fast-track Life-saving Health Commodities including Contraceptives

In June, Tanzania’s Parliament moved to endorse a special provision in the recently-passed Public Procurement Act (2016) that will fast-track life-saving health commodities, including contraceptives. Beginning this year, life-saving health commodities will receive priority throughout the procurement and distribution process. Family planning stakeholders advocated for the past two years for improvements to alleviate bottlenecks in the procurement process and help reduce contraceptive stock-outs in the country.

Members of Parliament were locked in a protracted debate over the provision during the recently- ended budget session, whereby those in favor of the special provision carried the day. Led by the Parliamentary Budget Committee, Members of Parliament drew links between delays in procuring and delivery of contraceptives to unwanted pregnancies.

The special provision will address delays in the procurement process, ensure minimum overlap in the roles of government institutions serving in this process, as well as contribute to reducing life-saving commodities costs.

Emergency contraception: The reproductive health innovation everyone should know about

Unintended pregnancies take a harrowing toll on women, young people, families and nations. When women are unable to decide whether and when to have children, maternal and newborn deaths rise, educational and economic opportunities are lost, families, communities and countries suffer greatly.

ec-pillsGlobal data highlights the tremendous challenge we face: 213 million pregnancies occur annually and an astonishing 40 percent — about 85 million — of these are unintended. In the United States alone, there are approximately 3 million unintended pregnancies each year, and in India, a staggering 18 million. A woman’s ability to make informed decisions about her reproductive health is one of the most basic human rights. It is a decision that can determine what kind of future she will have — and whether she will have one at all.

Emergency contraception is a unique tool for women to space and time their pregnancies. It is grossly underutilized, underfunded, and not fully optimized globally. It is the only contraceptive method that can be taken after unprotected sex and is effective for several days to prevent pregnancy. It is especially needed by women who have been sexually assaulted, who are often desperate to avoid becoming pregnant by their rapist.

AFP Expands to Bangladesh, Announces New Partnership with Marie Stopes

Advance Family Planning (AFP) is expanding its advocacy initiative to Bangladesh, partnering with Marie Stopes Bangladesh to lead efforts there. Bangladesh will be AFP’s tenth focus country since the initiative began in 2009, and its third in Southeast Asia. The expansion is part of AFP’s $19.5 million supplemental awards to broaden its efforts to new geographies in 2016.


“Marie Stopes Bangladesh is honored to become the newest partner of AFP initiative, as we believe that through this partnership we can increase the access of women to family planning services at a larger scale. This will enable us in further addressing the most critical issues creating barriers in uptake of family planning services as a whole in the country,” said Masrurul Islam, Country Director, Marie Stopes Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has made impressive progress in increasing contraceptive use and reducing its fertility rate. According to the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey, modern contraceptive prevalence among married women increased from 44% in 2000 to 54% in 2012. However, access to the full range of contraceptive methods and quality, affordable services remains limited.

Tanzania: Let Us Talk About Sex Education in Schools

For five years, Rahma Juma, a form 3 student at the Benjamin W Mkapa High School felt there was no one she could trust or even talk to about her peer problems. She was not only shy to communicate her issues but also was afraid of being condemned by the society or family. In fact, she was among the many youth of Tanzania who lived in a created social set-up of fear, taboos and shame.

It was until this year, the 16-year-old Rahma realised that she didn’t want to be a victim of her problems, and pushed herself to curb her difficulties and for her fellow school-mates.

Rahma’s transformation was sparked by a close friend of hers. In an interview with Success, she narrates, “There was a friend of mine who was hard-working though she was not performing well. But she wanted to complete her ordinary levels, in order to further her dreams. Unfortunately, she is married now. Her parents took her failure as the end of it, and instead of encouraging her, she was discouraged from schooling and hence was forced to get married.”

Workshop on Quality of Family Planning Services

To create awareness over various aspects of family planning, the Population Foundation of India (PFI) organized a two-day workshop at the Noor-Us-Sabah Palace Bhopal on Monday. On the second and last day on Tuesday, the participants would visit the field.

The main objective of the workshop is to build sensitivity around the issues of quality of family planning services available to women in the public health system and to build knowledge and capacity of media persons over health and population issues in order to generate evidence based information for advocacy.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare member advisor Alok Banerjee discussed various issues of family planning in the workshop.

A setback for RH advocates

The decision of the Supreme Court not to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on implants is a big letdown for reproductive health advocates.

The Forum for Family Planning and Development expresses “grief” over the denial by the SC on September 16 of the plea of the Office of the Solicitor General to lift the temporary restraining order on the health department’s distribution and sale of implants, a contraceptive that can prevent pregnancies for up to three years.

The decision sets back the full implementation of the RH Law, remarks FORUMpresident Benjamin de Leon.

Kenya: Only 42% of Woman in Lamu Use Contraceptives – Survey

The number of people using contraceptives in Lamu County is still low, a new survey has indicated.

According to the 2015 National Adolescents and Youth Survey conducted by the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD), only 42.2 per cent of women in Lamu use contraceptives while the rest are not willing or even aware of the various family planning methods available to them.

It is also revealed that at least 71 per cent of both married and single men use condoms while the rest are not willing to use any of the methods available.

UNFPA Sri Lanka continues multi-stakeholder engagements to develop Provincial-level Youth Policies

Sept 19, Jaffna: With a youth population of almost 4.4 million in Sri Lanka, it is imperative to ensure that comprehensive youth policies are implemented at both National and Provincial-levels in the country, given the regional disparities in the issues faced by young people, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka says.


The UNFPA, through its Youth Policy Programme, works with all Provincial Councils in the country to bring together multi-stakeholders to formulate comprehensive Youth Policies at Provincial-level that also take into consideration Sexual and Reproductive Health of young people.

Having carried out stakeholder consultations as part of the Youth Policy Programme with the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council and the Southern Provincial Council earlier this year, UNFPA Sri Lanka organized a stakeholder consultation with the Northern Provincial Council and the Provincial Ministry of Education, Cultural Affairs, and Sports, and Youth Affairs, on 19 September 2016 in Jaffna.

Population in Odisha slowing down

BHUBANESWAR: The growth of population in Odisha is finally slowing down. If the statistics are to be believed, the State’s total fertility rate (TFR), which indicates the average number of children born to each woman, has recorded a significant decline from 3.77 in 1990 to 2.1.

Official sources said districts like Angul, Puri, Bargarh, Jharsuguda and Jagatsinghpur have TFR of 1.9, 1.9, 1.9, 1.8 and 2 respectively. Districts having high TFR are Boudh, Koraput, Nabarangpur,Nuapada with 3.5, 2.9, 2.8 and 2.7 respectively.

While 14 districts have achieved TFR less than 2.1, the rate at which a population replaces itself from one generation to the next without migration,16 districts have TFR above 2.2.

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