The Family Planning Summit for Safer, Healthier and Empowered Futures: Outcomes

In July 2012, leaders from around the world gathered in London for a watershed event. The London Summit on Family Planning reignited global commitment to women’s fundamental right to decide for themselves whether and when to have children. An ambitious new goal was set—to empower 120 million additional women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use modern contraception by 2020—and a new partnership and platform was launched: Family Planning 2020 (FP2020).

On 11 July 2017, the five-year anniversary of that inaugural summit, leaders convened in London once again. The Family Planning Summit for Safer, Healthier and Empowered Futures brought together FP2020 countries, partners, and stakeholders from around the world to evaluate lessons learned and take collective action to accelerate progress. Co-hosted by the UK Government, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in close partnership with the FP2020 Secretariat, the Summit aimed to boost progress on one of the best investments governments can make: rights-based family planning programs. Read the full outcomes here. 

What is Family Planning without STI & HIV prevention?

A plea for more integration

For us at the Female Health Company it is a given; the best way to protect yourself is with dual protection. The FC2 Female Condom combines it all in one package: HIV prevention, a barrier against STIs, and protection against unplanned pregnancies. So perhaps that is why it comes as an unpleasant surprise to us that at conferences and at meetings with donors, time and time again we notice the funding landscape around sexual and reproductive health and rights is extremely segregated.

At last week’s Family Planning Summit in London, we were grateful that so many governments and organizations proved their commitment to family planning by pledging to invest in it. In total, 64 new policies and financial commitments were made by governments, donors, foundations and the private sector. We applaud their combined efforts to counter the funding gap that has been caused by the Global Gag Rule and general lack of funding priority for SRHR worldwide.

Like many others at the summit, the Female Health Company committed to another 5-year pledge[1]. We believe family planning is life- and future planning. But dual protection is important. Where is the attention for HIV & STI prevention? What is family planning worth if women and girls (and their male partners) still fall sick? Where is mother to child transmission of HIV, STIs or the recent Zika crisis in the conversation? So, in this blog, we would like to shift the focus to prevention; not only the prevention of unplanned pregnancies, but also the prevention of STIs such as HIV and Zika. We can assure you; they are just as unplanned.

Last month, we asked you to speak up with us to keep the female condom on the agenda. Not only in terms of advocacy, also in terms of investment. As we showed in that letter, in 2012, UNFPA and USAID provided 334,833 CYP[2] by investing in the female condom. In 2016 this number has decreased to 171,333 CYP combined: in four years, it almost halved. To give you a different picture; from the total global HIV prevention R&D Investments (with US funding), 0.3% went to female condoms last year (down from 0.5% in the previous year). For the European public-sector investments in HIV Prevention by R&D, this is 0% (down from 0.1% in 2014)[3].

The female condom is still the ONLY dual protection method available to women worldwide with which they can take control over their own protection from STIs and unplanned pregnancies. Not all women in the world might want to use the female condom, but many do, and we know who they are! Keeping the female condom on the agenda ensures a method mix from which women can choose. The ability to choose will lead to higher use of contraceptives and barrier methods as there is a method out there for everyone. The numbers don’t lie; an investment of 0.3%, 0%… we have said it before and we will say it again: we can’t have the female condom disappear, but if we don’t act now, it will.

As Melinda Gates said at the Family Planning Summit in London last week: “Contraceptives are one of the greatest antipoverty innovations in the world”. For condoms specifically, this is not just because they are a great tool in family planning, it is also (and especially) because they help prevent people from falling sick. If we as a community want to make the SDGs happen, we should invest in the right tools; not predominantly in the newest products and developments, but also, and in particular, we should invest in the tools that we already have and that have been proven to work, like the female condom.

We are excited about the recently formed commission by the Lancet that will investigate the future of the HIV response and global health. They acknowledge the importance of translating success in one field (the fight against AIDS) to broader global health strategies and the SDG agenda.  We at Female Health believe that is the future, and the way to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember SDG number 5, ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’, including its target, to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights? The only way to get there is together. Let’s make it happen!

[1] Based on the procurement quantity of the purchasing country, the Female Health Company pledged to provide accompanying technical support free of charge, in the form of master training; educational materials; and demonstration models to ensure sustainable FC2 female condom programs in that country.

[2] Couple-Years of Protection; a measure that estimates the protection from pregnancy provided by contraceptive methods during a one-year period.

[3] HIV Prevention Research & Development Investments 2000 – 2016, by AVAC

Twinings commits to expand its programme to improve women’s health to an additional 40,000 women in its supply chain in Kenya by 2020 in support of Family Planning 2020

Twinings is extremely pleased to announce that it commits to expand its programme to raise women’s health, particularly concerning reproductive health and family planning, from 6,000 tea workers and farmers to an additional 40,000 women in its supply chain in Kenya by 2020, in support of Family Planning 2020.

Twinings aims to improve the quality of lives of people in tea communities where it sources its products through its Sourced with Care programme. It believes everyone in its supply chain should have a good quality of life and be able to provide for themselves and their families.

Céline Gilart, Head of Social Impact at Twinings, explained: “Healthier, empowered and sustainable communities are essential to ensuring strong supply chains, but also we believe working to improve lives in our supply chain is the right thing to do. Women form most of the workforce in tea gardens, but sexual health and reproductive rights can be a barrier to their development. We know that when women and girls thrive, so do their wider societies. That’s why we are committed to empowering women in our supply chain through health and education.

U.S. to Provide Family Planning for Adolescents

The US government intends to dedicate a portion of its Shs 1.7 trillion health budget on providing family planning services to adolescents and women, but admits it is facing challenges getting Ugandan authorities to buy into the idea.

The USAID Mission director in Uganda, Mark Meassick, told journalists at the US mission on Wednesday that they will give special focus on family planning and reproductive health, through providing crucial, age-appropriate information to adolescents.

With Uganda recording one of the highest incidences of teenage pregnancies in the world, according to Meassick, it is important that mechanisms to address these challenges are put in place to avert what could become a full blown crisis. But the government does not support the provision of contraception to adolescents, he added.

“One of our challenges that we are working closely with government is trying to figure out how we address family planning with adolescent girls,” he said.

“We have had discussions with the First Lady about age-appropriate sex education and so we are trying to work out details about how that will work and what that needs to look like.”


Family planning on back-burner, health dept admit lack of focus


DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand, like its neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, has reported a decline in adoption of family planning measures, says the latest report of the National Family Health Survey-4.

Health authorities are concerned over failure to popularise contraception methods aimed at controlling population.

Uttarakhand director general (health) DS Rawat accepted that the department had put family planning on the back-burner.

“The department wasn’t able to concentrate on family planning as there were other projects that needed attention. We will try to publicise contraception methods from now onwards,” he said.

The survey conducted for married women, aged between 15 and 49 years, reported a decline of nearly 6% in overall contraception methods used in the state from 2005-06 to 2015-16. The male sterilisation percentage, which was meagre, has recorded a significant drop. Female sterilisation also registered a fall.

Soon, Maharashtra government to roll out injectable contraceptive

PUNE: Injectable contraceptive, which was within the reach of affluent few till recently, will soon be made available for the underprivileged at public hospitals for free.

The state government has received 80,000 injectable contraceptive doses through the Union government under its National Family Welfare Programme. It will be made available at government-run medical colleges attached hospitals, district hospitals and hospitals for women within next two weeks.

Experts, however, said the injectable contraceptive should only be given after proper counselling where women should be explained about the possible side-effects, including irregularity in menstrual cycle. Besides, its long-term use can have adverse effect on body’s calcium mineralisation.

Currently, the government offers five birth-control options free-of-cost in the family planning programme, including female sterilization, male sterilization, intrauterine device, condoms and pills.

African Leaders and 4,200 Midwives Unite to Call for Urgent Global Policy Reform and Recognition to Help Save One Million Lives Per Year

The International Confederation of Midwives, Toyin Saraki and former Tanzanian President, Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete have united health leaders at a high-level health forum to address the global state of midwifery.

Skilled and educated midwives can provide 87% of essential healthcare needed during pregnancy and following birth – even in low resource settings. It is estimated that through their intervention, 56% of maternal, fetal, and newborn deaths could be prevented – a million lives each year. However, urgent global policy reform and recognition of the profession by governments and donors is needed to help midwives achieve this.

The high-level forum brought together government representatives, heads of agencies and global advocates to identify ways to address the global state of midwifery. The forum was hosted by the International Confederation of Midwives as part of their 31st Triennial Congress, a flagship event for midwives taking place in Toronto this week.  It was convened by H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

Maternal and Newborn Health Conference adopts 16-Count Resolutions

Stakeholders at a two-day Maternal and Newborn Health Conference in Grand Bassa County have pledged to collectively intensify their efforts to address the major causes of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality as well as improve the health and wellbeing of the Grand Bassa people. Conference participants were unanimous in their declaration that there should be No Home Delivery.

The over 150 participants’ recommitment was contained in a 16-count resolution adopted at the end of the conference held at the Unification Pavilion in Buchanan City on June 13 & 14, 2017. In their resolution the participants reminded all stakeholders, especially the County Administration, County Health Team (CHT) and Community leaders to ensure full implementation of the resolutions.

Reaffirming their dedication, the County administration including County Superintendent, Statutory Districts Superintendents, District Commissioners, and Paramount Chiefs), promised to demonstrate their support in leadership and resource mobilization; ensure coordination and collaboration among different sectors such as education and gender; and ensure the enforcement of fines and penalties for violators as agreed upon at the conference.


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