The New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) congratulates the organisers of last week's family planning summit which has seen $2.6 billion in donor funding committed to family planning in the next eight years, in addition to $2 billion that developing countries will raise to fund their own family planning programmes.
The family planning summit was co-hosted by the Department for International Development (Dfid) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has generated unprecedented political commitment and resources to meet the family planning needs of women and girls. Neither New Zealand nor the Pacific was represented in the summit that was attended by several governments and organisations from across the world.
There are hundreds of millions of women worldwide who want to delay or avoid a pregnancy who are not using an effective method of family planning. Increasing access to family planning information, services and supplies can prevent up to a quarter of maternal deaths and is an extremely cost-effective investment towards achieving other development outcomes. According to research based on data from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, every dollar spent on family planning can save $41 to $45 in health-care and education costs.
Global attention and leadership on family planning has been lacking due in part to the politicisation of the family planning agenda by the conservative anti-choice lobby. Between 1997 and 2006 international investment in family planning almost halved, from $653 million to $394 million, while in some countries the number of women of reproductive age doubled.
"New Zealand spends the majority of its aid money in the Pacific. Over the past decade family planning programmes in the Pacific have received just 0.03% of the region's aid. Pacific women have expressed a desire to have fewer children, and a desire to space their children. Despite this, support for family planning programmes in the Pacific has diminished and does not meet demand. This is an issue of utmost importance that New Zealand should be seeking to support with our international development assistance." Dr Jackie Blue, Chair of the NZPPD said.
The London summit kicked off the Gates Foundations' official campaign to raise $4 billion for family planning services - a campaign which is supported by NZPPD.
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