Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the launch of a multi-faceted $50 million reproductive health program to prevent maternal deaths and help more women freely and safely make decisions about when to have children. At the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, Michael R. Bloomberg committed $50 million to Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), a global collaboration of governments, non-profit organizations, donors and researchers, to ensure that women in the world's poorest countries have access to family planning information, contraceptives, and services by 2020. Funding from this $50 million commitment will be allocated to the three core components of Bloomberg Philanthropies' reproductive health program which includes new advocacy efforts, as well as an expansion of Bloomberg Philanthropies' existing program in Tanzania. Elements of the program will be comprised of:
Advocacy grants to strengthen reproductive health rights for women in Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Uganda
A rapid-response grant program to help governments and providers in 69 of the world's poorest countries effectively deliver services
Comprehensive reproductive health services such as family planning and post-abortion care in existing and newly renovated health clinics in Tanzania, which has the eighth highest number of maternal deaths worldwide and where a woman dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth almost every hour
Over 200 million women and girls in developing countries want to delay, space or avoid becoming pregnant, but they do not use modern methods of contraception due to lack of information, opposition from partners or others, or difficulty obtaining services and supplies. This has tragic consequences, especially in developing countries where unintended pregnancies contribute to almost 300,000 deaths during pregnancy and childbirth every year and millions of injuries to mothers and infants.
"For all our advances in medicine, far too many women still die during childbirth, a tragedy for mothers, their children, and their entire families," said Michael R. Bloomberg. "By providing critical health services closer to mothers' homes – and by empowering women to make informed choices about when they want to have children – we can help save thousands of lives."
Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with Planned Parenthood Global, the international division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to support advocacy efforts for vital reproductive health reform in Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Uganda. These countries were selected by Planned Parenthood Global and Bloomberg Philanthropies as the needs and opportunities for advocacy were great. Through grants to local organizations in these four countries, this advocacy effort aims to improve access to family planning information, contraceptives and reproductive health services for women, including particularly marginalized groups, such as youth and unmarried women.
"When women have the power to decide if and when to have children there are fewer unintended pregnancies, fewer maternal deaths, and greater opportunities for women, families and their communities," said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "To do this, governments need to play a stronger role to ensure that all women have access to the health care they need, no matter who they are, no matter where they live."
The advocacy grants will support local partners' efforts to advocate for laws and policies that support access to reproductive health services. Planned Parenthood Global will provide on-the-ground support to local organizations with technical expertise on coalition-building and media campaign development.
To contribute to unanticipated gaps in funding, Bloomberg Philanthropies is also partnering with the United Nations Foundation, which hosts FP2020, to launch a rapid-response grants program. These grants will be administered by FP2020 to improve access to family planning services in any of the 69 FP2020 focus countries. They will be deployed quickly for critical needs such as purchasing supplies in emergency situations and providing specialized trainings for health providers.
"The Rapid Response Fund catalyzes action by matching resources to needs through a simple and nimble deployment mechanism. FP2020 will be able to seize opportunities and respond to critical emergencies that deliver high impact in the short-term," said Kathy Calvin, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Nations Foundation.
Since 2006, Bloomberg Philanthropies has been working to improve maternal health in Tanzania, using an innovative strategy to save mothers' lives training non-physicians to perform life-saving surgeries, including cesarean-sections, and building operating rooms in remote health centers so more women have access to emergency care closer to home. The program has trained over one hundred non-physician clinicians to date, and expects to reach tens of thousands of mothers and children.
Bloomberg Philanthropies will expand work with partners, The World Lung Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation, as well as begin work with additional partners EngenderHealth and Marie Stopes International, to serve a population of about 2 million people with comprehensive reproductive health services. The program in Tanzania will also support the construction of additional operating rooms, aiming to double the number of rural sites delivering life-saving medical services from 10 to 20 clinics.