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In London, advocates tout the importance of access to contraceptives

With human population growth increasing, world leaders at the Family Planning Summit 2020 in London pledged an additional $2.5 billion toward expanding access to contraception and family planning over the next four years. Most leaders, however, indicated that was still not enough funding to meet the need.

Noticeably absent from the global convening was the US government, which has traditionally been the largest funder of global contraception and family planning efforts.

As health ministers, philanthropists and government leaders across Europe, Africa and India pledged funding, they simultaneously criticized President Donald Trump’s administration for going in the opposite direction. Earlier this year, his government cut $32 million in funding for the United Nations Population Fund, the UNFPA, and has threatened to cut $600 million more from the State Department’s budget.

“I’m deeply trouble, as I’m sure you are, by the Trump administration’s budget cuts,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “If empowering women is more than just rhetoric for the president, he’ll prove it by funding family planning.”

The Gates Foundation is a major funder of PRI and its Across Women’s Lives effort.

The foundation pledged $375 million over the next three years, with a focus on increasing access to contraception for adolescent girls worldwide.

More than half of the commitments counted so far will come from governments in Asia and Africa, with India committed to spending an additional $1 billion by 2020, while Bangladesh said it will increase its family planning funding by nearly 70 percent to $615 million until 2021, according to Devex.

Most of the efforts to increase access to contraception focused on Africa, where by 2050 the bulk of the world’s population growth is slated to take place. An additional 2.4 billion people are projected to be added worldwide by 2050, with 1.3 billion of them in Africa.

There was a sense of urgency at the summit, which had an initial goal in 2012 of getting modern contraceptives to 120 million more women and girls in 69 target countries by 2020. Current data indicates progress is well short of that target: Only 30 million additional women and girls have been reached since 2012, according to a midway review.

And an estimated 214 million additional women and girls in the global south still want access to contraception but can’t get it.

Funding levels don’t appear to be enough. Even with the commitments that came in at the London summit, this is far short of what the latest data from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group on reproductive issues, says is needed: $11 billion annually to expand services to meet all the women’s needs for contraception in developing regions.

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[Photo Credit: Erik de Castro/Reuters]
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