UN, Gates Partner To Boost Family Health In Developing Countries

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The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a memorandum of understanding to help increase access to family planning information, contraceptives and services in developing countries, particularly for young people.

The agreement which was signed in New York on Saturday will draw on both organizations’ strengths and expertise in support of the global goal of expanding access to high-quality, voluntary family planning supplies and services for an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s 69 poorest countries by 2020.

The Gates Foundation brings a global network of partners and expertise in technology and innovation, while UNFPA contributes country-level reach, experience working with governments and expertise in family planning and reproductive health.

UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, who participated in the signing ceremony in Seattle said that his agency, UNFPA, and the Gates Foundation were working together to advance the goals and principles of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning to enable women and adolescent girls to decide, freely and for themselves, whether and when to have children and how many they want to have.

The former Nigeria’s Health Minister noted that the partnership would help expand access to a range of contraceptive technologies, especially new and underused methods, stressing that the focus would be on long-acting, reversible contraceptives, such as injectables and implants.

Osotimehin pressed further that UNFPA and the Gates Foundation would use innovative approaches to expand method choice and availability in clinical and non-clinical settings, including harnessing open source information, mobile and information technologies to improve supply chain management and prevent stock-outs, and social media to tackle social, cultural and gender issues.

UNFPA is the longest-serving multi-lateral agency leading in the field of family planning, providing assistance for over 40 years in more than 150 countries. Voluntary family planning, considered a fundamental human right, is a key part of UNFPA’s work.

Family planning is central to the Gates Foundation’s efforts to empower women and improve maternal, newborn and child health.

The Gates Foundation seeks to revitalize family planning efforts by raising awareness among governments and the private sector; increasing contraceptive access and options; improving cross-sector coordination; and supporting the development of innovative contraceptive technologies.

“This groundbreaking partnership is anchored in a belief that all women and girls should have the opportunity to plan their families and reach their full potential,” said Dr. Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Our unique collaboration with UNFPA will help to advance FP2020 and improve maternal and newborn health.”

Young people, especially young women and girls, are among the key beneficiaries of this strengthened cooperation, reinforcing the importance of addressing their sexual and reproductive health needs.

Access to contraception delays childbirth and allows for birth spacing, which in turn increases the chances of young women staying in school, improves maternal, newborn and child health, and advances overall better life prospects, including social and political participation and economic opportunities.

Source: Leadership Newspaper

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