Reaping the benefits of family planning in developing countries
Each year on 11 July, the international community observes World Population Day. Its main objective is to focus attention on the significance of population issues, and with the global population already far exceeding 7 billion, this topic is more important than ever. This year’s theme is ‘Family planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations’.
NRS International‘s newly-launched subsidiary Ulinzi Latex, is committed to manufacture and supply high quality, totally reliable and affordable reproductive health products for the institutional market. Ulinzi Latex’s aim is to significantly contribute to widening access to family planning around the world.
Major benefits but still limited access
Easy access to family planning products and services can be considered a basic human right. In the context of developing countries, effective family planning drives dramatic improvements in overall health by reducing maternal and neonatal mortality rates. Added benefits include a more sustainable population growth, gender equality, education, and less poverty.
Despite these desirable outcomes, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that around 225 million women worldwide want to avoid pregnancy yet are unable to adequately meet their family planning needs. The majority of these women live in 69 of the poorest countries on Earth.
Narrowing the family planning gap
To address this wide gap in family planning provision between developed and developing countries, the global movement Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) was established as an outcome of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning. FP2020 aims to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020, and it works with stakeholders across the board, from governments and multilateral organisations through to the private sector and the development community, to make this a reality. This year’s World Population Day coincides with the Family Planning Summit, the second meeting of the FP2020.
Condoms have a vital role to play
FP2020 believes that all women, no matter where they live should have “universal access to voluntary contraceptive information, services and supplies”. An assured supply of high quality and cost-effective male latex condoms is vital to the success of this strategy. Many of the 69 FP2020 focus countries have wholeheartedly embraced the FP2020 vision, and are keen to reap the many benefits of an effective family planning system.
In Laos, family planning is seen as the basis for a strong and vibrant economy, and a way of reducing pressure on the healthcare system[i]. Dr. Kikeo Chanthboury, Laos’ vice minister of planning and investment, noted, in a recent interview: “Increasing our government’s investment in family planning commodities, including contraception, will be cost-effective on so many fronts. Spending USD1 on contraceptives can reduce the cost of pregnancy related care by USD7, and eventually help save millions of dollars in direct healthcare costs averted.”
In Ghana, a recent survey showed that more than half a million Ghanaians aged 15 to 19 years are sexually active and that the average age at which Ghanaian adolescent girls have their first baby is 17 years[ii]. More than a half are not using any form of contraception, creating a huge unmet need for contraceptive usage in the country. Dr Olive Sentumbwe-Mugisa, Family Health and Population Advisor, World Health Organisation (WHO) Uganda, said: “It is estimated that 2,000 maternal deaths could be avoided each year if all women who said they want no more children were able to stop childbearing”.
It has also been suggested that Increased access to family planning can give security benefits[iii]. In Chad and Mali, for example, there is low contraception use and women have an average of six children each. Taking the African continent as a whole, African youth could increase by 42% by 2030. UNFPA West Africa Regional Director Mabingue Ngom warned that this dramatic growth risks youth participation in extremist groups. He commented: “We need to focus more on prevention, by helping ensure access to family planning and by creating work for the young people in Africa to contain radicalisation.”
Empowering the family planning movement
Ulinzi Latex is building its own state-of-the-art production facility managed by HSNDS Latex in Lahore, Pakistan, a newly established branch of NRS International‘s Pakistan-based factory, H. Sheikh Noor-ud-Din & Sons (HSNDS). By becoming a leading manufacturer we can make a significant contribution to widening access to family planning globally and so assure the education and future prospects of millions of children around the world.