JOHANNESBURG – The use of contraceptives has significantly improved in Africa, with the number of users of modern methods growing by 66 percent to over 66 million women and girls since 2012, a global report showed on Tuesday.
In East and southern Africa, the number of modern contraceptive users grew by 70 percent in the eight years to July 2020, according to the new figures released by Family Planning 2020, a global partnership that supports the reproductive rights of women and girls.
The annual report shows that 320 million women and girls are now using modern contraception in 69 low-income countries. More than 121 million unintended pregnancies, 21 million unsafe abortions and 125,000 maternal deaths were prevented in the last year alone.
“Providing access to family planning for every woman and girl is critical, no matter where she lives,” FP2020 said in a statement accompanying the report.
“The growing use of contraceptive methods has resulted in not only improvements in health-related outcomes such as reduced maternal mortality and infant mortality, but also improvements in schooling and economic outcomes for women and girls – who are crucial for social and economic progress.”
Despite the threat of Covid-19, the family planning community has broken through barriers to transform the lives of women and girls in the world’s poorest countries through improved means and access to contraceptives, it said.
Big challenges however still remain, with millions of women and girls still denied the right to choose their own future, said FP2020 executive director Beth Schlachter.
“As we look ahead to 2030, we must continue to push for progress, build on what works well, and ensure we leave no woman or girl behind,” she said.
In 13 African countries, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Somalia, the number of modern contraceptive users has doubled over the last eight years.
Globally, bilateral family planning funding from donor governments totalled US$1.5 billion in 2019, on par with 2018 disbursements.
The FP2020 report said partners and countries around the world had responded rapidly to the Covid-19 pandemic and the threat it posed to decades of women’s progress.
FP2020 works with governments, civil society, multilateral organisations, donors, the private sector and the research and development community to enable millions more women to use contraceptives.
The outcome of a 2012 summit in London on family planning, the initiative aims to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights by 2030, as laid out in the United Nations sustainable development goals.
– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa