"Voluntary family planning services will reach an additional 120 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries by 2020 thanks to a new set of commitments announced [at the London Summit on Family Planning on Wednesday] by more than 150 leaders from donor and developing countries, international agencies, civil society, foundations and the private sector," a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation press release reports (7/11). Donors "pledged $2.6 billion over the next eight years at [the summit], in what was described as a breakthrough for the world's poorest women and girls," the Guardian writes, adding, "More than 20 developing countries made commitments to boost spending on family planning and to strengthen women's rights to ease their access to contraception" (Tran, 7/11). Speaking at the summit, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, announced the foundation "will spend more than $1 billion over the next eight years to increase access to contraceptives in the developing world and research new methods of birth control" and "outlined several of the initiatives [the foundation] will focus on in the coming years, including efforts to bring down the cost of birth control so that it will be within reach of the world's poorest women," the Seattle Times notes (Doughton, 7/11).
Public and private partners -- including DfID, USAID, UNFPA, Pfizer, PATH, and the Gates Foundation -- "announced plans to collaborate to reach approximately three million women in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia from 2013–2016 with up to 12 million doses of an injectable contraceptive at affordable price levels," a PATH press release states (7/11). "Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $50 million contribution" to a new global family planning partnership with the Gates Foundation, according to a Bloomberg press release (7/11). Merck reports in a press release it will "pledge up to $25 million over eight years as part of Merck for Mothers -- the company's 10-year initiative to reduce maternal mortality around the world" -- a pledge that "will be matched by the Gates Foundation as part of its commitment to family planning" (7/11). The WHO "committed to a series of actions aimed at improving family planning and reproductive health services in developing countries," including a pledge "to fast-track its assessment of new and existing contraceptives so that more women in low- and middle-income countries can access a broader range of safe and effective contraceptive products," according to the U.N. News Centre, which notes, "The event coincide[d] with World Population Day, which falls on 11 July" (7/11). U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a press statement in commemoration of the day, saying U.S. "efforts are critical to improving the status of women and upholding these basic human rights around the world" (7/11).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.