Today’s London Family Planning Summit is a welcome reminder that the UK can still lead global health discussions, and make commitments of UK aid that maintain its continued global role.
What was The Summit?
The Summit was a five-year review of the FP2020 event in London in 2012 at which the UK, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gathered world leaders to commit to get contraception to 120 million additional women by 2020.
Five years later, there has been progress and an additional 30 million women have contraception. But progress is not fast enough for the 2020 target.
The UK calculates that it has supported 8.5 million. Of course, the majority has come from national resources in countries which had the most to do.
A surprise from Priti Patel
At the 2017 Summit, DFID Secretary of State Priti Patel surprised the audience with a bold commitment – to increase the UK’s annual contribution to family planning aid by 25%.
This means an additional £45 million a year, to which Patel committed until 2022. This means the UK will contribute £225 million a year to family planning.
This will support contraception for 20 million women and girls every year, prevent 6 million unintended pregnancies and prevent over 75,000 still births.
“British aid at its best”
We warmly welcome this, which dwarfed other commitments made at the Summit. We welcome it because we know that, in 2015, 30,000 teenage girls died as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.
Thousands of our supporters agreed and we handed in their names to Priti Patel last night with other charities. Kirsty McNeill, our Director of Policy Advocacy & Campaigns said:
“UK aid saves lives and the sort of long-term investment Priti Patel announced today is the most effective way to change the lives of girls and women forever. Today’s announcement represents British aid at its best and everybody who supports aid can be proud of the number of children who will be saved as a result.”
Giving all girls control
We also recognise, as all speakers did, that girls and women having control of their bodies is essential to their rights. Priti Patel also said that the UK would continue “supporting safe abortion and working to prevent the horrors of backstreet abortions that kill so many women and girls.”
Most of the commitments made today were by low and middle income governments – and this is how universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights will be achieved. By governments raising and spending money fairly, building Universal Health Coverage with reproductive health services, at primary care level, for all women and girls.