Family planning funding continues to fall

Posted: 14 July 2009

Despite the urgent need for family planning, expenditure on global provision continues to fall, which may make the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) difficult or impossible to achieve.

The 2009 update of the report The Return of the Population Growth Factor: Its impact upon the MDGs, produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health, shows the immediate need to rectify and increase family planning funding in overseas development assistance in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Family planning funding
Family planning funding
Family planning funding diminishing 1995-2006. Source: Prof. Joseph Speidel, evidence to the Group, 2006. Update: Population and Sustainability Network compiled from financial resource flows for demographic activities 2005
The update reveals that since original publication, investment in family planning has continued to fall despite rising need, which could put in jeopardy the UN medium population projection of 9.2 billion in 2050. The findings thus suggest with increasing urgency that the current rates of population growth will make the MDGs difficult or impossible to achieve.

The cross party group of MPs warn that the failure to prioritise family planning in overseas development aid is resulting in population growth levels that present a serious threat to health, economic development and the environment in some of the poorest countries.

Christine McCafferty MP, the Chair of the Group said: "In 2009, the international development agenda is increasingly focused on global phenomena, including climate change, fragile states and poverty elimination. The relationship between these factors and population growth is clear, but is also complex and controversial."

Global population size in 2050 depends on the availability of family planning programmes in some of the world's poorest countries. The UN median population projection - currently 9.2 billion by 2050 - is produced on the assumption that family planning is expanding in availability. However because of lack of investment, many of these programmes are crumbling.

"Urgent action must be taken to ensure family planning provision becomes an integral part of all efforts to reduce poverty, improve mothers' and children's survival and health, and to forestall further damage to the natural environment," said Christine McCafferty.

Among the recommendations of the report is for contraceptive supplies to be a top priority as demand continues to outstrip availability and for the elimination of barriers to family planning including cultural and religious restrictions.

A full copy of the original Report, the 2009 Update Summary and the 2009 Updated Charts can be viewed at http://www.appg-popdevrh.org.uk/.

According to a new World Bank analysis, funding for population and reproductive healthcare programmes, as a share of global health aid, declined from 30 per cent in 1994 to 12 per cent in 2008.

The proportional decrease is due to larger attention in recent years - politically and financially - to other global healthcare crises, particularly HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released the World Bank statistics last week in advance of World Population Day. Joy Phumaphi, the Bank's vice president for human development, said that greater financial resources are necessary to help women in developing countries avoid raising families that are larger than they can manage.

"Even before this [economic] crisis began, family planning and reproductive health had fallen off the radar of low-income countries, aid donors, and development agencies," said Phumaphi, a former health minister for Botswana, in a statement. "We've lost precious time in helping women get access to these vital health services, and helping countries get on a faster track to reducing poverty."