It is imperative to make family planning more accessible in low resource settings. The poorest couples have the highest fertility, the lowest contraceptive use and the highest unmet need for contraception. It is also in the low resource settings where maternal and child mortality is the highest. Family planning can contribute to improvements in maternal and child health, especially in low resource settings where overall access to health services is limited. Four critical steps should be taken to increase access to family planning in resource-poor settings: (i) increase knowledge about the safety of family planning methods; (ii) ensure contraception is genuinely affordable to the poorest families; (iii) ensure supply of contraceptives by making family planning a permanent line item in healthcare system’s budgets and (iv) take immediate action to remove barriers hindering access to family planning methods. In Africa, there are more women with an unmet need for family planning than women currently using modern methods. Making family planning accessible in low resource settings will help decrease the existing inequities in achieving desired fertility at individual and country level. In addition, it could help slow population growth within a human rights framework. The United Nations Population Division projections for the year 2050 vary between a high of 10.6 and a low of 7.4 billion. Given that most of the growth is expected to come from today’s resource-poor settings, easy access to family planning could make a difference of billions in the world in 2050.
Published in Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B October 27, 2009 364:3093-3099;