Executive Director’s blog

July 2012

Carole Presern, Director PMNCH

This week brings a key moment for the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health community: the London Family Planning Summit, hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This event, supported by many PMNCH board members, and a range of partners, including the Governments of India, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Senegal, UNFPA, IPPF and USAID, is long overdue. Expanding access to family planning is key to saving the lives of women and children and to improving gender equity. Yet as the new Countdown to 2015 report shows, only 56% of girls and women (married, ages 15-49) living in countries with the highest rates of maternal and child deaths have “satisfied demand” for family planning. In other words, nearly half of such girls and women who want to avoid pregnancy or improve birth spacing are not currently able to do so.

Clearly, it is time for the world to tackle this problem.

Improving access to family planning services and supplies makes good sense. It reduces maternal deaths due to unsafe abortions, it improves the survival chances of existing children, and it bolsters national progress in poverty reduction and development. For too many years, funding for family planning has been allowed to slide, despite robust evidence on efficacy. The London Summit turns a much-welcomed spotlight on these issues, linking family planning to a wider family and community health perspective embodied by the Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health, and the Every Woman, Every Child effort.

PMNCH will be participating widely in the Summit, including through the launch of our new private sector engagement guide, Private Enterprise for Public Health: Opportunities for Business to Improve Women’s and Children’s Health, developed in conjunction with the Innovation Working Group of the Every Woman Every Child effort, chaired by Tore Godal of Norway, and Scott Ratzan of Johnson and Johnson, with the support of consultancy firm FSG. The guide was developed from more than 100 consultations with leading global and regional companies and public health professionals over the past year, and is the first-ever privatepublic engagement guide relating exclusively to reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

Even if you are not heading to London, you can link on your right to watch the live webcast of the event on Wednesday 11 July starting at 9:30 BST and learn more and show your support in a number of ways:

  • Download the Knowledge Summary on Family Planning developed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with the support of UNFPA, WHO, Family Care International, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), DFID, Maternal Health Task Force and other partners;
  • Read up on the Call to Action and Support for Contraceptives initiative launched by PMNCH board member IPPF ;
  • Visit the No Controversy website launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where you can share your experiences and sign a pledge for action.
  • Download reports from the Guttmacher Institute with UNFPA, who have updated their acclaimed Adding It Up publication with the new Adding it Up: Costs and Benefits of Contraceptive Services—Estimates for 2012 and Save the Children’s new report on increasing access to family planning: Every Woman's Right: How Family Planning Saves Lives.

Finally, join the Family Planning Summit on the live webcast, follow the events on Twitter (#FPSummit), and keep an eye on www.pmnch.org for the reports from the London Summit.

Taken from the PMNCH July 2012 E-Blast