On Tuesday 11 July 2017, the UK hosted a major international summit on family planning, in partnership with UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Summit brought together leaders from around the world to work together to remove barriers to family planning services so that voluntary, modern contraception can be offered to many more millions of women in the world’s poorest countries across Africa and Asia.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel gave a key note speech, alongside Natalia Kanem, acting head of UNFPA, and Melinda Gates.
Ms Patel set out that the UK Government would boost and extend its annual support for family planning around the world until 2022.
In addition, the UK will be focusing its efforts on eliminating the stigma, cost and access issues associated with family planning, by supporting innovative technology, helping fix issues in supply chains so contraceptives make it onto the shelves and reach more women in emergency settings.
The UK will support millions more women with family planning to overcome the following issues:
- There is no choice of contraceptives - the UK is supportive the roll out and scaling of the first new self-injectable contraceptive - Sayana Press - in a decade. This new self-injectable is already transforming the lives of women in four pilot countries - Uganda, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger. Now with the UK’s support, Sayana Press will be available for more women in the world’s countries.
- Women cannot afford the contraceptives they want - the UK, through the World Bank, will encourage governments in developing countries to fund their own family planning systems which will, for example, allow women in Nigeria to access family planning free of charge for the first time.
- Women living in a emergency setting - the UK will be demanding more from its humanitarian partners and supporting them to improve access to family planning services for refugees.
- Contraceptives don’t make it onto the shelves - the UK will support the new Visibility & Analytics Networks - a data monitoring system formed by a coalition of partners - to map what contraceptives are needed and where. This will bolster the efforts of the UNFPA to get contraceptives where they are needed, when they are needed.
- Social taboos - the UK will support the new ‘SRHR Connect’ programme which will address barriers facing women who want family planning, including addressing the stigma that stops women accessing family planning services.
The international development secretary called on governments, civil society and businesses to build on the progress from the summit, to do more to increase the availability and drive down prices of family planning services in developing countries.