Sexual and reproductive health

Countries need to do what works to improve contraceptive access, provision and choice for women and girls

Greater efforts needed to meet international family planning goals

Three adolescent girls are jumping and smilling in a park, Russia.
The world now has the largest ever cohort of adolescents in history, and it is essential that countries meet their contraceptive needs, to ensure their present and future well-being, and also the well-being of their families and communities.
WHO /Sergey Volkov

11 July 2017: Women and girls have a human right to choose whether and when to become pregnant. When they do not have access to high quality contraceptive and fertility care services and information to help them plan their families, their health and well-being can suffer.

Family planning allows spacing of pregnancies and can delay pregnancies in young women at increased risk of health problems and death from early childbearing. Contraception prevents unintended pregnancies, and therefore also helps to reduce the need for unsafe abortion.

Promotion of family planning – and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples – is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and development of communities.

WHO at the 2017 Family Planning Summit

Policy-makers, leaders, donors and contraceptive advocates from around the world are gathering at the Family Planning Summit in London to discuss how to intensify efforts in order to meet global goals for family planning.

The Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is joined by other WHO leaders at the event, including Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health, and Dr Ian Askew, Director of WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP.

We know what works

On the occasion of the Family Planning Summit, a series of Evidence Briefs have been co-published by WHO, UK Aid, STEP-UP, and Population Council. These evidence briefs share crucial data on what works to improve contraceptive services and uptake. They take stock of progress made but also underline what works to improve contraceptive information and services delivery and uptake.

The briefs touch upon a number of issues, including how to accelerate uptake of voluntary, how to address the contraceptive needs of adolescents, how to improve family planning service delivery in humanitarian crises, how best to finance family planning services and programmes, as well as rights-based family planning in low- and middle-income countries, contraceptive supply chains, collaboration across sectors, and expanding contraceptive choice.

Access the Evidence Briefs

Five years of progress

In 2012, the London Summit on Family Planning was held to set global goals for improving the provision of and access to contraceptive information and services. Over the past five years, countries have made significant progress towards improving access to voluntary family planning services. In 2016, 300 million women and girls across 69 of the world’s lowest-income countries were using modern contraceptives. As a result of this, more than 82 million pregnancies, 25 million unsafe abortions, and 125 000 maternal deaths are averted every year.

A long way to go – girls and women on the move

Lack of family planning casts a shadow over the future for millions of women and girls on the move

In a new commentary, Dr Flavia Bustreo highlights the global imperative to meet the needs of girls and women on the move.

Despite these significant gains, countries still have a long way to go to ensure that no one is left behind. Data shows that an estimated 214 million women of reproductive age in developing regions who want to avoid pregnancy are not using a modern contraceptive method.

In addition, there is an urgent need to answer to the specific sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who are displaced or living in emergency and crisis situations. Of some 100 million people who were targeted in 2015 with humanitarian aid, an estimated 26 million are women and girls of reproductive age.

Focus on adolescents

The world now has the largest ever cohort of adolescents in history, and it is essential that countries meet their contraceptive needs, to ensure their present and future well-being, and also the well-being of their families and communities. Dr Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli, Scientist at WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP, will be speaking as a panelist in the plenary session of the 2017 Family Planning Summit to highlight the importance of meeting the contraceptive needs of adolescents. On the occasion of the Summit, a commentary has been published on the Family Planning website which highlights the data gaps and opportunities for action.