Doubling of global investments in family planning, birth control could cut maternal, newborn deaths, report says

By doubling investments in family planning and birth control, developing countries could nearly halve newborn deaths and reduce maternal deaths by 70 percent, a new report said Thursday, Reuters reports (Kelland, 12/3). The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Guttmacher Institute released the report, according to the U.N. News Centre (12/3).

"Experts estimate that more than half a million new mothers and 3.5 million newborn babies die in developing countries each year and say many of those deaths are easily preventable," Reuters writes. Currently, the international community spends approximately $12 billion annually on programs in developing countries related to family planning and maternal health, the report found. It "said doubling current spending to $24.6 billion would prevent the early deaths of almost 400,000 women and 1.6 million babies, cut unintended pregnancies by more than two-thirds and reduce by 75 percent the number of unsafe abortions and resulting complications," according to the news service.

According to the report, "some 215 million women who want to avoid pregnancy do not have effective contraception, and only about half of the 123 million women who give birth each year receive the antenatal, delivery and newborn care they need."

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said in the report, "We know what must be done, we know what it will cost, and we now know that the needed investment is modest in relation to the vast benefits that will follow" (12/3).

Investing in family planning could have added benefits, "including increases in condom use for pregnancy prevention simultaneously curbing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases," U.N. News Centre writes. "Preventing unwanted pregnancies will also increase women's educational and employment opportunities, and enhance their social and economic status, the report added, while noting that family savings and investment would rise, spurring economic growth and reducing poverty."

Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute, said, "The report outlines how to best focus resources to achieve the greatest gains. Investing in women has enormous benefits, not just for individuals and families, but for societies as a whole. It can truly transform the future of developing nations" (12/3).

Kaisernetwork.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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