UN Secretary-General Commends Addis Call to Action

United Nations Secretary-General and his Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning commended the Addis Call to Action, a declaration of support for family planning as a key part of development and inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nearly 1,000 individuals and organizations from more than 80 countries signed onto the Call to Action, representing the millions of women, men, and young people around the world asking leadership to secure sexual and reproductive health services for all people. The declaration urges the Post-2015 development framework to commit to universal access to voluntary, high quality family planning.

Dr. Jotham Musinguzi of Partners for Population and Development launched the Call to Action at the closing event of the 2013 International Conference on Family Planning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr. Michael J. Klag, Dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, presented the collective global appeal for family planning to remain a core component in upcoming discussions of the Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda. In his letter to the Secretary-General Dean Klag praised the inclusion of family planning and universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services by 2030 in proposed goal 3, as stated in the final draft of the 13th session of the Open Working Group for Sustainable Development. He also encouraged the United Nations leadership to ensure:

  • Universal access to voluntary, high quality family planning and sexual and reproductive health services, including of the widest possible contraceptive choice, is included in the post-2015 framework;
  • Existing Millennium Development Goal targets on maternal mortality and access to reproductive health that have not been met are carried over into the new framework as key goals and targets; and
  • Closing the gap in unmet need for family planning in full within the time frame of the new post-2015 framework.

In response, Special Adviser Amina J. Mohammed, on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, shared their appreciation of the Addis Call to Action and reiterated their commitment to the Post-2015 Development Agenda, noting that, “the integration of sexual and reproductive health care services will ensure a truly transformative development landscape.”  She stated that the input would be duly considered as the Synthesis of the Secretary-General is prepared.

The majority of the supporters of the Call to Action signed on as individuals (60%), 35% signed on both as an individual and on behalf of an organization, and 5% signed on as organizations. A number of global institutions contributed their weight to the list, including:

African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), Nairobi, Kenya
Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins University
DKT International
DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung)
European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF)
Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University
Guttmacher Institute
Institute for Reproductive Health
International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
International HIV/AIDS Alliance
IntraHealth International
John Snow Inc. (JSI)
Management Sciences for Health (MSH)
Matei Multipurpose Cooperative Society (MATCOPS), Sierra Leone
Pathfinder International
Population Services Inc. (PSI)
Population Council
Save the Children
Universal Access Project
World Education, Inc.
Women Deliver

View the full list of signees.

Read the full Addis Call to Action statement.

For more information contact gatesinstitute@jhu.edu.

New CSIS Report and Video: Family Planning and Linkages with U.S. Health and Development Goals

Re-post: Smart Global Health Mailing List

Ethiopia has attracted global attention for its leadership in advancing family planning. Contraceptive use rose from 15% in 2005 to 29% in 2011, due largely to the government’s ambitious Health Extension Program. The U.S. has made significant investments in Ethiopia’s health and development programs, and has been a critical partner in its achievements in family planning.

To examine the impact of family planning in Ethiopia and its linkages with broader health and development goals, CSIS visited Ethiopia to produce a video and to lead a delegation in February 2014. The delegation included bipartisan staff from three congressional offices, and from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Hope Through Healing Hands.

This blog discusses the CSIS video and the delegation’s findings, which focus on the opportunities and challenges presented by Ethiopia’s program. The delegation’s report underscores the importance of continuing U.S. global leadership in family planning, and calls on the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress to use upcoming opportunities in 2014 to demonstrate the U.S. commitment. Despite multiple enduring challenges, Ethiopia’s program offers important lessons for other countries, and for U.S. policy.

HLMM Final Report

The Final Report for the High-Level Ministerial Meeting, “The Youth Dividend – Return on Investment in Family Panning,” is now available.

Family Planning Program in Senegal Drawn into Conflict with Religious Leaders

Repost From: The Washington Post
Written by: Allyn Gaestel

From the corner of his family’s bustling courtyard, El Hadji Fally Diallo looked out approvingly at his large extended family. Several women with babies on their hips prepared the massive midday meal, and children studying the Koran mumbled verses to themselves.

“It’s like we expanded from one family to three,” Diallo, a 76-year-old village leader, said of his own three wives and expansive brood. “With 30 children, some can go to the field, some can deal with the cattle, some can go abroad. It’s a lot of money you can have with this size family, so that is a lot of power.”

The Diallos have a time-tested definition of success in which a large family plays a central role. But that model is clashing with a government program to increase contraceptive use and reduce family sizes. Largely financed by international donors, the program is part of a global campaign that aims to give 120 million more women around the world access to contraception by 2020.

For supporters of the program, the benefits of contraception are clear: better health for women and children, economic benefits and smaller families.

This last justification, smaller families — and so smaller populations — has drawn the women’s health program into conflict with religious leaders and rekindled suspicions about the motivations for international aid.

For Diallo and his son Ibrahima Diallo, who is an imam, their large family is not only an economic boon, it is also a moral imperative.

“If Europeans say the population is too large so we need to limit births, Islam can’t agree with that because God says, ‘You are my people, multiply,’ and it is the duty of God to take care of the family,” the younger man said. “It’s not for Europeans to bring family planning and say, ‘You have a large population, you will have consequences.’ ”

Senegal, a country of 13 million, is 94 percent Muslim, and the views of imams such as Diallo are deeply respected.

West Africa has one of the lowest rates of contraceptive use in the world. And while some local activists have been pushing for family planning for decades, much of the current programming is funded by international donors.

A Senegalese women’s rights network called Siggil Jigeen has been advocating family planning for nearly two decades, and program director Fatou Ndiaye Turpin is frustrated with its dismal progress. The biggest hindrances, she said, are Islam and rumors about side effects of contraception.

“If religion allowed it, there would be no problem,” she said.

Siggil Jigeen regularly works with imams to find ways to promote theological justifications for family planning, such as highlighting sections of the Koran that emphasize preserving women’s health and spacing children. “It’s always men who come and say this is forbidden by Islam,” she said. “Women don’t know what’s in the Koran.”

Turpin said she has been criticized for promoting what many here see as an international agenda that goes against Senegalese values. “Some people understand our mission, but some think this is an invasion that came from outside the country because they give us money,” she said.

At a global conference on family planning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in November, numerous sessions focused on explosive population growth. West Africa and the Sahel region were highlighted as particularly vulnerable. By 2050, the region’s population could triple to 300 million, worsening an already palpable food crisis.

The United Nations projects Senegal’s population to reach 58 million by 2100, largely because of the high birth rate. Women here have an average of five children; in rural areas such as Mereto, the average is 6.3.

At the Ministry of Health, Bocar Daff, the director of reproductive health, said that his role is to “improve the health of the population.” A lower fertility rate would “affect the development, security, school, electricity, it’s clear,” he said, “but if we go to the population, I don’t think that’s the strategic way” to present the issue.

But at the financial ministry, Lanfia Diané, who works in the population and development planning division, was more direct.

“The population should be at the heart of all development,” he said, “Five children per woman? No country in the world has developed themselves with this rate.”

In the Diallo courtyard, such macro-level analyses are discounted as culturally inapplicable. “In Senegal, we have solidarity; you can take your child to . . . your brother’s house for help,” Imam Diallo said. “We can have even a bigger and bigger population, but with solidarity we won’t have problems.”

Family planning activists often point to the economic strain of a population with fewer workers than dependents. But religious leaders worry that the focus on family size ties contraceptive programs with population control, something most imams see as un-Islamic.

“Family planning is not reproductive health, is not space between babies; it’s not health of women, it’s to limit births,” said Imam Ahmed Ndiaye, an outspoken critic of family planning programs and a frequent guest on television programs in the capital, Dakar.

But little by little, Senegalese women are turning to family planning themselves as they learn about contraception from each other, community health workers and government radio announcements.

In Koumpentoum, the district where the Diallos live, only 4.7 percent of women used family planning methods in 2013, according to the health center. And midwives say the tiny minority who use contraceptives often hide them from their husbands.

Yassin Diouf, 40, who lives across the village from the Diallo family, has had 10 children, though only six survived. She has used contraception in the past and plans to use it again.

“No more, this is enough, thank you, thank you, God. God help me to stop here,” she said, cooing to her suckling 4-month-old baby. “Maybe it’s forbidden by Islam, but women are so tired of giving birth.”

2011 ICFP Journal Issue

Research presented at the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning has been published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics! Links to the full-text articles may be found on the ICFP Papers page.

Youth Voices Series: Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health

Many of our ICFP Youth 2013 from the International Conference on Family Planning are still on the ground in their communities advocating for sexual and reproductive health months after the conference has ended. FHI 360 has highlighted a few of them here.

Re-post: Degrees.fhi360.org


Implementing youth-friendly health services in Malawi
Barwani Msiska, a youth advocate from Malawi, discusses the critical role of policy change in the improvement of youth sexual and reproductive health.

Why I choose to be a youth advocate for family planning
Burcu Bozkurt, a youth advocate, explains why she is so passionate about the sexual and reproductive health of young people.

One youth’s quest to improve reproductive health in Nigeria
Isaiah Owolabi, a participant in the Interagency Youth Working Group online forum, Following through on the 2013 ICFP: Youth, SRHR and policy change, offers his views on youth sexual and reproductive health.