UN: Contraception Could Save World $5.7 Billion Through Family Planning

Thursday, 15 Nov 2012 11:02 AM

By Michael Mullins

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In its annual State of World Population report, the United Nations said on Wednesday that if women, particularly those in developing countries, had access to contraception, the world economy would be increased by approximately $5.7 billion.

According to the study, by allowing impoverished women in developing countries to control the size of their families through the use of contraceptives, more women would be able to work, giving way to wealthier households which would consist of fewer dependents.

“The data that we have shows that access to family planning unlocks unprecedented rewards, both at the individual and national level,” UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said in London.

“Women who have access to family planning can contribute enormously to economic development. The accumulated effect of these highly personal decisions can influence entire countries and regions . . . Family planning is not a privilege, but a right. Yet, too many women, and men, are denied this human right.”

According to the report making family planning available in developing countries alone would decrease maternal and newborn health care costs by approximately $11.3 billion annually, the report says.

The UN estimates that approximately 222 million women worldwide lack sufficient access to contraception, with Africa and Southeast Asia having the least access to safe family planning.

In addition to improving the standard of living of those living in poverty, contraception access would also lead to fewer babies dying within the first year of life, as well as fewer women dying as a result of childbirth complications, says the UN.

According to the UNFPA report, if by 2020 an additional 120 million women received contraceptives when they wanted them, 3 million fewer babies would die during the first 12 months and birth related deaths for women globally would be decreased by more than 30 percent.

Despite the UNFPA report’s declaration that family planning was a “fundamental human right,” Osotimehin, who was the former Nigerian health minister, added, “Abortion should not be promoted as a method of contraception. Where it is legal, we advocate that it should be done safely.”

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