By Asma’u Ahmad
The United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) and United Kingdon Department for International Development (DFID) said they will increase their investments in Family Planning (FP) through multi-sectoral processes.
They also agreed to achieve the goal in collaboration with other partners to increase investments and strategic decisions to raise access to voluntary FP in Africa.
This was contained in a statement issued by UNFPA which was made available to newsmen in Abuja.
The statement said the international organisations had reached the agreement during the high-level meeting on FP in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia jointly organised by the UNFPA and other key stakeholders.
It said that Africa has the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in the world, with some five million girls lacking access to contraceptive supplies.
It added that complications of pregnancy and childbirth also remain the primary cause of death for girls aged between 15 and 19 years in Africa.
According to the statement, five years after the London Summit and the launch of the FP2020 there have been significant achievements towards improving access to voluntary FP in Africa.
The statement said a panelist at the high level meeting announced that a summit on FP would be held in the summer to speed up efforts.
It said the high-level meeting served as a moment to reflect on key achievements, challenges and opportunities for scaling up access to voluntary FP.
It added that the meeting also explored the central role of increasing access to voluntary
However, it noted that voluntary FP enabled women and girls to complete their education, take up better economic opportunities and fulfill their potential.
The statement also quoted the UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin saying, it is unthinkable to reap the demographic dividend if the FP programme is not working.
“The demographic dividend is a boost to economic growth that happens when countries had a growing number of working people relative to those below or above the working age.
“They, therefore, spend less on dependents, can save more and have more disposable resources to invest,” Osotimehin said.
United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, who lauded recent progress in increasing access to voluntary FP by implementing FP2020 commitments.
She also added that a lot needed to be done in reinforcing collective efforts to cover the last mile in ensuring access to voluntary family planning to millions of women and girls in Africa.
Patel and Osotimehin jointly announced that a follow-up to the FP2020 Summit would be held in London in 2017, with the goal of delivering a concrete plan to put the world back on course to meet FP2020 commitments.