The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday announced that it will invest an additional $120 million (about K84 billion) in family planning programmes over the next three years, a 25 percent increase on its current family planning funding. Speaking in a live video stream during the opening of the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Indonesia, the Foundation’s co-chair, Melinda Gates said the additional funding will focus on three priority areas that demonstrate potential for significant progress in increasing access to family planning.
The priority areas are: advocacy for family planning, improving the quality of services women and girls receive, and spreading access to the urban poor and adolescents.
“We have it in our power to give every woman, every girl, everywhere the chance to not just survive but thrive; to lead healthy, prosperous lives; to empower them to ultimately transform their lives,” said Gates.
Speaking during the opening, the Gates Foundation’s president of global development Chris Elias said with the largest generation of youth in history about to enter their reproductive years, the Foundation will also invest in learning how to more efficiently and more effectively reach young people.
“Our approach has to start with examining the evidence and analysing the data so that we know what’s working and—just as importantly— what isn’t,” said Elias.
He urged delegates to challenge each other on what steps to take to meet the family planning 2020 (FP2020) goals set at the 2012 London Summit of Family Planning where the global community— including the Malawi Government—set an ambitious goal to ensure an additional 120 million women and girls would have access to family planning services and contraceptives by 2020.
“Each of us has a role to play. We have the expertise and experience to achieve a world where women and girls are empowered to make their own decisions about their own lives. A world where they just don’t survive but thrive,” Elias said.
The financial pledge by the Gates Foundation comes in the wake of a new FP2020 progress report which found that the global community risks falling short of its FP2020 goal if it does not take immediate action to speed up progress.
Three years after the London Summit on Family Planning, an additional 24.4 million users have been reached with modern contraception, averting 80 million unwanted pregnancies, 26.8 million unsafe abortions and 111 thousand maternal deaths. Malawi is one of the countries with the highest acceleration in the modern contraception use rate.
The ICFP opened on Monday and will close on Thursday.