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Every other year since 2009, the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) has brought together the family planning community to share best practices, celebrate successes, and chart a course forward. The first conference was held in Kampala, Uganda, in 2009 and convened more than 1,300 participants around the topic of family planning for the first time in fifteen years, sparking positive change for family planning policies in Uganda. With more than 2,200 participants, the second conference was held in 2011 in Dakar, Senegal, and highlighted family planning issues in Francophone Africa. The 2013 ICFP drew more than 3,400 attendees to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The fourth ICFP was held in Indonesia, a country that has successfully proved its leadership in innovative family planning programming. Indonesia’s national family planning initiatives doubled the contraceptive prevalence rate to nearly 60 percent between 1976 and 2002 and decreased the fertility rate by half. The Indonesian government is now committed to revitalizing the country’s national family planning program to improve on the progress that has slowed since 2002. The country has quadrupled its budget allocation for family planning, from $65.9 million in 2006 to $263.7 million in 2014, which will enable better health worker training and the provision of free family planning services through the country’s new universal health care system.
The 2016 ICFP was co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN). The 2016 conference drew more than 3,000 attendees, and the ICFP shaped and influenced the role and contributions of family planning in attaining the new Sustainable Development Goals.
The ICFP is more than a conference; it is a movement and a platform for strategic inflection points in the family planning agenda. The theme for 2016 was Global Commitments, Local Actions. Each day of the conference featured a plenary session focused on a different theme. The spotlighted tracks featured issue-oriented themes, including: addressing youth needs and involvement; quality of care: true improvements or lip service; the demographic dividend: how south-to-south exchanges can help its realization; implementing best practices (IBP); advancing FP through faith organizations; FP2020 progress and challenges; innovations in financing; and advocacy and accountability.
The 2016 ICFP had many high points. Among them:
- The ICFP was opened by His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia. Nearly 4,000 people attended the Opening Ceremony, where global leaders discussed the global status of family planning and called for urgent action to increase access to family planning worldwide.
- The first-ever Global Humanitarian Awards for Women’s and Children’s Health were awarded to Dato’ Sri Dr. Tahir, Tahir Foundation; Arif and Fayeeza Naqvi, Aman Foundation; and Sir Christopher Hohn, CIFF.
- At each day’s plenaries, distinguished political leaders, ministers, youth leaders, advocates, and scientists discussed family planning’s role in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the important role of youth in the FP movement, and fulfilling FP2020 commitments.
- Sponsored by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the FP Voices photo booth was a huge hit, inviting conference participants to share their thoughts on the importance of family planning.
- The youth performance at the Closing Ceremony brought the audience to their feet. This ICFP had the highest-ever youth participation numbers in conference history!
- The EXCELL Awards were bestowed at the Closing Ceremony to: Kenya and Ethiopia; Yayasan Cipta Cara Padu, Indonesia; and Janette Loreto-Garin, Secretary of the Department of Health, Philippines, and Hon. Edcel C. Lagman, Representative, 1st District of Albay, Philippines.
- The 13 finalists in the in-person portion of the 2016 Quality Innovation Challenge, organized by the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, were announced (and can be viewed here).Up to 5 will win grants of $100,000 each; these awardees will be announced in April, along with the finalists from the online portion of the challenge, who are in the running for up to 4 grants of up to $25,000 each.
Several notable commitments in support of family planning were announced at the ICFP.
- Melinda Gates reiterated the Gates Foundation’s commitment of an additional $120 million to family planning over 3 years via a video message.
- Alvaro Bermejo of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) announced a new $30 million initiative called Adolescents 360, co-funded with the Gates Foundation.
- International Planned Parenthood Federation(IPPF) announced the expansion of their commitment to bring family planning services to women with unmet need for modern contraception; IPPF is now aiming to reach 60 million new users of family planning by 2020.
- Leaders from a range of faith traditions made a joint statement affirming their commitment to family planning for the health and wellbeing of their communities.
- In a video message, Agustin Matata Ponyo, Prime Minister of the DRC, expressed his strong commitment to family planning, connecting it to the DRC’s economic growth. The DRC sent the largest governmental delegation, including three ministers, to the ICFP. Just before the conference, the DRC’s National Assembly voted unanimously to include the purchase of contraceptives in the Ministry of Health’s annual budget for the first time—resulting in an allocation of USD 3.5 million.
The 2016 ICFP garnered media recognition all over the world, generating 375+ original publications, and—thanks in part to an #ICFP tweet by Bill Gates—reaching nearly 27 million unique accounts on social media over 291 million times (impressions). As of February 2016, 40,000 tweets tagged with #ICFP had been generated, and there were 8,500 unique contributors to the conversation. These are record highs for the ICFP!
The conference organizers look forward to continuing the ICFP momentum at the 2018 conference!