Over 214 million women not using safe family planning

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Some 214 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are currently not using safe and effective family planning methods, according to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report.

“Most of these women with an unmet demand for contraceptives live in 69 of the poorest countries on earth. Fulfilling their unmet demand would save lives by averting 67 million unintended pregnancies around the world and reduce maternal deaths by one third of the estimated 307,000 maternal deaths that will occur in 2017,” according to the report.

Modern contraceptive use has nearly doubled worldwide from 37 percent in 1970 to 64 percent in 2016. However, much remains to be done in order for women to enjoy their right to decide whether, when or how often to become pregnant.

According to the report, approximately 12.7 million teenage girls between 15 and 19 years in developing countries had an unmet demand for family planning, in 2015.

“In this same age group in developing countries, an estimated 14.5 million girls become mothers every year,” according to figures in the report.

Emphasis is placed on family planning and that it is a lifesaving intervention. “It prevents unintended pregnancies and in turn reduces health risks of childbirth and recourse to unsafe abortions,” according to the report. Male and female condoms can also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections, highlights the report.

“This type of intervention is critical in humanitarian crises, often characterised by sexual violence, intimate partner violence, child marriage and high-risk behaviour, such as survival, transactional and commercial sex,” highlights the report. Yet, across and within crisis settings, family planning services, including contraception, are often limited, inadequate or even non-existent.

Even where family planning services exist, the subordinate status of women and girls within the family in many societies may deny them access because they cannot negotiate use with their partners, the report states.

Therefore, as Namibia and the rest of the world observe World Population day today, UNFPA has reiterated that investing in family planning is investing in the health and rights of women and couples worldwide.

These investments also yield economic and other gains that can propel development forward and are thus critical to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals (STGs), according to a UNFPA report.

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