Family Planning & Reproductive Health
FY2016 Funding Recommendation:
President's FY2016 Request
InterAction's FY2016 Recommendation
Funding in this account expands access to voluntary contraceptive and family planning programs, reduces maternal mortality, and improves infant health. Since 1965, the 27 countries with the largest USAID investments in family planning have increased contraceptive use from under 10% to 37%, and reduced the number of children per family from more than 6 to 4.5.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2014 the use of modern contraceptives (including the provision of information, counseling, and services) in the developing world prevented an estimated 231 million unintended pregnancies, 61 million unplanned births, 144 million abortions, 100,000 maternal deaths, and 1.1 million newborn deaths. Additionally, by scaling up voluntary family planning in the 24 priority countries of the Acting on the Call initiative – which helps women to achieve more healthy timing and spacing of their pregnancies – the U.S. government could help to avert 7 million newborn and child deaths and 450,000 maternal deaths by 2020.
These programs are vital to improving the health and well-being of mothers and their children. Eliminating the unmet need for contraception in developing countries would reduce maternal deaths by about 30%. Particularly in rural areas with poor health infrastructure, family planning is the most cost-effective way of reducing maternal and child deaths because, unlike some alternative interventions, it does not rely on complex technologies. Additionally, access to family planning services leads to lower HIV infection rates, enhances women’s and girls’ education, raises standards of living, and supports more sustainable development.
Family Planning project garners support of women, men in India
In northern India, a USAID-funded grant enabled World Vision to introduce two new approaches to increasing contraceptive use.
The first focused on training male community health workers to talk about family planning with fathers, religious leaders, and community leaders, encouraging them to time and space pregnancies to reduce child and maternal mortality and build healthy families. Meanwhile, female community health workers (CHWs) made household visits to reach mothers and mothers-in-laws with information on the benefits of spacing pregnancies by at least three years. All workers carried their counseling materials and contraceptive supplies (pills and condoms) in book bags marked with the USAID and World Vision logos. The book bags identified the women as CHWs and made it socially acceptable for them to travel beyond their own villages to counsel women in other villages.
The second approach trained women in self-help groups to be Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy (HTSP/FP) counselors. The women developed street dramas – a public and usually very amusing forum – to break the silence around the sensitive topic of family planning, and give people the vocabulary they needed to discuss family planning and couple decision-making about contraceptive choices.
Within 14 months, there were more than 67,000 new contraceptive users, with an estimated prevalence rate of 77% in targeted communities, compared to 44% a year earlier. This USAID pilot project built support for HTSP/FPI and is being integrated in World Vision’s MCHN programs in almost 40 countries. Moreover, in 2012, India’s National Rural Health Mission began to introduce HTSP/FP messages throughout the entire country.
Photo Credit: Adrienne Allison, World Vision