Breaking new ground to reach the global goals for contraceptives

“We need to step up the pace if we are to meet the global goals for modern contraceptives,” said Magnus Magnusson, Head of Nordic, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the FP2020 half-way mark event in Sweden on July 6, 2016.

Today 225 million women, who need and want to plan their lives, pregnancies and families, are still not getting this choice through available, acceptable and accessible modern contraceptives. The goal of FP 2020, set in 2012, is to reach an additional 125 million women with modern contraceptives by 2020. Since then, the number of countries with FP2020 commitments has grown to 36 and, in 2014 alone, donors provided US $1.4 billion in bilateral funding for family planning—32 per cent more than in 2012.

As 2016 marks midpoint to FP2020, there is a need to create political and public awareness of the unmet need for modern contraceptives and to discuss new solutions, as well as the need to increase efforts to meet the global goals.

To address this, Countdown 2015 Europe’s partner in SwedenRFSU, organized a seminar in Almedalen where Swedish policy-makers, political parties and their leaders, civil society, institutions, media, researchers and private sector meet to discuss politics, including international development cooperation.

“Sexual and reproductive health and rights, including access to modern contraceptives has long been a priority of the Swedish Development Cooperation Policy. But we need new ideas and approaches if we are to reach these goals!” said Maria Andersson, RFSU’s Secretary General.

“This is ultimately about power, the power to decide over one’s own body”, said Ulrika Modéer, State Secretary for International Development Cooperation, Sweden, “and this is starting point for the Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy. If women and girls do not have the power over their own bodies, it’s hard to see how they would be able to claim power in any other spheres.”

Expanding options and choices 

Professor Gemzell-Daniellson cited the new Guttmacher report, which shows that concerns about side-effects and health risks are the most often cited reasons why married women do not use modern contraceptives rather than a lack of access which was cited only by 5% of married women.

“We need to continue to invest in research into new contraceptive options, so that people can chose what works better for them, including contraceptives for men,” said Gemzell-Danielsson, Karolinska Institutet. She explained how research partnerships with WHO and academic institutions in low- and middle income countries are good ways of putting modern contraceptives on the agendas of Ministries of Health in countries lagging behind reaching the global targets.

Joachim Beijmo, Director of Communications at Sida, shared insights from a volume guarantee programme that helps reducing the price per implant from 18 USD to 8.50 USD through guaranteeing the production of a larger volume than if individual agencies or countries procured directly from the supplier.

What can Sweden do to reach the goals?

Mr Magnusson called for a second round of pledges from donor countries to the FP 2020 initiative and Mr Beijmo stressed the need to focus on finding new innovative solutions to funding and building alliances with other countries, exploring ways of leveraging private capital for development cooperation. He underlined the important normative role that Sweden has with its progressive sexual and reproductive health and rights polices linked to family planning.

Professor Gemzell-Daniellsson called for investment in research on modern contraceptives and outlined how Swedish researchers have been at the forefront in developing, for example, emergency contraceptives.

State Secretary Ulrika Modéer highlighted the important role Sweden has in ensuring delivery of results, in expanding access and up-take, but also in changing the attitudes of politicians and decision-makers. Ms Modéer also pointed out that Sweden is now exploring new models to expand access to sexual and reproductive health services in humanitarian settings.

RFSU’s innovative advocacy contribution was to target the lack of political will and support to advance the universal access to modern contraceptives at a global level. RFSU therefore developed a new political contraceptive, with the hope of curing decision-makers from abuse of power and contraceptive phobia.

This is a Countdown 2015 Europe event in series “Advance Human Rights, Invest in Family Planning”.

 Follow us on Twitter @C2015Europe #Stand4FP