Family Planning & Reproductive Health

FY2017 Funding Recommendation:  
$1 billion

 

Funding History

       Enacted   

       President's FY2017 Request   

       InterAction's FY2017 Recommendation


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Justification

 Key Facts

For FY2017, we recommend a total of $1 billion for family planning and reproductive health programs (FP/RH), both bilateral and multilateral, with funding provided from the Global Health Programs account and the Economic Support Fund, as well as from the International Organizations and Programs account in order to provide a $65 million voluntary contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

A total of $607.5 million (of which $32.5 million is designated for the UNFPA) is appropriated for U.S. assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs for FY2016. This level of funding makes it possible to achieve the following:

  • Provide 28 million women and couples with contraceptive services and supplies;

  • Avert 6 million unintended pregnancies, including 3 million unplanned births;

  • Prevent 2.4 million induced abortions (1.9 million of them unsafe); and

  • Prevent 12,000 maternal deaths due to complications during pregnancy and child birth.

USAID estimates that greater access to family planning each year has the potential to save the lives of 1.4 million children under the age of five in its priority countries. Despite these investments, an estimated 225 million women in developing countries want to choose the number, timing, and spacing of their pregnancies, but lack access or face barriers to family planning methods.

Every day, approximately 800 women in developing countries die from preventable causes related to pregnancy, and unsafe abortion remains a major cause of these unacceptably high maternal mortality rates. Addressing the demand for access to reproductive health services, including a full range of contraceptive methods, will improve maternal and child health, reduce unintended pregnancies, lower HIV infection rates, enhance women’s and girls’ education, raise standards of living, and support more sustainable development.

Such additional investments would yield tangible benefits. For each additional $10 million the U.S. invests in international family planning and reproductive health assistance:

  • 460,000 more women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;

  • 97,000 fewer unintended pregnancies, including 45,000 fewer unplanned births, would occur;

  • 39,000 fewer abortions would take place (of which 30,000 would have been unsafe); and

  • 200 fewer maternal deaths would occur.

Unfortunately, U.S. funding commitments have continued to erode. Since 1995, U.S. financial assistance has declined by one-third when adjusted for inflation. The number of women of reproductive age in developing countries has grown by more than 350 million during the same time period. In addition, the appropriated level for overseas FP/RH programs has fallen $41 million or over 6% since FY2010.

Success Story

Community-Based Family Planning in Zambia

Zambia is facing a critical shortage of health personnel, especially in rural areas where access to modern family planning services is lowest. This lack of services and the high fertility rate of 5.3 births per woman can put heavy strains on families, affecting economic security, nutrition, and child development. One in five women (21%) who want family planning services does not have access to them.

In three districts, a USAID-funded grant1 enabled ChildFund International to introduce a new method of contraceptives to rural areas through community-based distributors (CBDs). To meet growing demand, the injectable contraceptive Dep-Provera was added as a third option to condoms and contraceptive pills. In the context of human resource shortages, the provision of family planning services at the community level has shifted from health workers to CBDs. The project established a learning site through which other NGOs could witness best practices for CBDs, which has facilitated broader distribution of Depo-Provera.

The CBDs program has been instrumental in increasing the uptake of family planning services, with the number of users increasing over six-fold in just four years – from 1,822 in 2012 to 11,700 users in 2015. Ruth Mushili, a 33-year-old woman from Kamoba village commented, “Access to family planning [before CBDs] was never easy. The distance to the facility used to discourage me and the area between my village and the nearby clinic gets flooded during rainy season. This would cut most of us off from accessing health services if there are no canoes to use. The other nearby health facility in Mandombe has elephants roaming and we could not access family planning because of fear of being attacked…”

The work of CBDs has greatly improved the health, social and economic status of families practicing family planning. Ruth noted, “I feel healthier and able to perform duties at home including selling fish in towns outside my district because I have a very small family that does not give me much pressure to take care of. We are able to send our children to school without a lot of pressure.” She also brags of having spaced her children two years apart and that family planning has helped to limit the size of her family to four children.

Ruth is now strongly motivating fellow women to have access to family planning services provided by CBDs in her village and beyond. Moreover, In February 2016, the government agreed to allow trained community-based health workers to provide injectable contraception. Scale-up of this task-sharing approach throughout the country was a major milestone and will specifically help rural women who otherwise would not have reliable access to this family planning method.

 

1 This publication (story) was produced by ChildFund International through Advancing Partners & Communities (APC), a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-12-00047, beginning October 1, 2012.

Photo: ChildFund International

 

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