By Asma’u Ahmad
Participants at the ongoing International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) say African countries have not lived up to their FP2020 commitments.
The Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) is a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide freely for
themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have. ICFP, which began in 2009, is a gathering of political leaders, scientists, researchers, policymakers, advocates and youth.
The aim is to disseminate knowledge, celebrate successes and identify next steps toward reaching the goal of enabling an additional 120 million women to access voluntary, quality contraception by 2020. The 2018 ICFP, which is the fifth, is ongoing in Kigali, Rwanda, from November 12 to November 15.
It is co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Rwanda with theme “Investing for a Lifetime of Returns.” Ms Jane Nyathi, 24-year-old ICFP Young Leader from Zimbabwe, said Family planning issues mostly affect young people.
“Many African countries have not lived up to their FP2020 commitments and people’s future are diminished and destroyed as a result. It is important that youths be taken seriously because we are the present and we are the future,” she said.
According to the meeting, child spacing is important because access to sexual and reproductive health services helps to reduce newborn and maternal deaths, as well as school dropouts due to early pregnancy.
Also, experts estimate that achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health services by 2030 and eliminating unmet need for modern contraception by 2040 could realise health and economic benefits worth 120 dollars for each dollar spent.
Studies also suggest that sufficient investment in voluntary family planning services and girls’ education will reduce carbon emissions by nearly 60 gigatons through 2050. The panelists at the meeting also identified the critical role of family planning in achieving demographic dividend.
According to them, demographic dividend is the potential for economic growth that results from shifts in a population’s age structure. As health outcomes improve and more women gain access to contraceptives, birth rates decline and the working population increases while the number of dependents decreases.
Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda, said: “The demographic dividend refers to gains in economic growth and changes in the population age structure when we have a larger working-age population and fewer dependants.
“For this workforce to generate a dividend, it must be well-equipped with the right knowledge and skills, including family planning, to be productive to help the economy grow,’’ he said.
They emphasised that the world is entering a particularly critical moment as over half of the world’s 1.2 billion young people (aged 10-19) live in developing countries and many still lack access to contraceptives.
They said that greater access to reproductive health services could enable this generation of young people to plan their pregnancies.
“This will increase their chances of staying in school, joining the workforce and becoming the next generation of productive adults rearing healthy families and fueling prosperous economies.”