Benefits of Investing in Family Planning

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What is the evidence on the health, economic and other benefits of investing in family planning? Please provide evidence of benefits at the individual, household, community, country and global level.

Summary:

This report focuses on the evidence on the health, economic and other benefits of investing in family planning. Family planning allows people to attain their desired number of children and determine the spacing of pregnancies. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of infertility (WHO 2015). A large and growing body of literature explores the social and economic benefits of women’s ability to use reliable contraception to plan whether and when to have children (Sonfield et al 2013). Compared to other interventions, investments in family planning have been shown to be highly cost effective. It is inexpensive and the return on investment is high. Family planning interventions have powerful poverty reduction effects in addition to providing health and human rights benefits (Bongaarts and Sinding 2011).

Cleland et al (2006) explains that the promotion of family planning in countries with high birth rates has the potential to reduce poverty and hunger and prevent 32% of all maternal deaths and nearly 10% of childhood deaths. It would also substantially contribute to the empowerment of women, achievement of universal primary schooling, and long-term environmental sustainability. Over the last 40 years, family planning programmes have played a key part in raising the prevalence of contraceptive practice from less than 10% to 60% and reducing fertility in developing countries from six to about three births per woman. However, in half of the 75 larger
low-income and lower-middle income countries (mainly in Africa), contraceptive practice remains low and fertility, population growth, and unmet need for family planning are high (Cleland et al 2006).

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