Int'l Conference on Family Planning kicks off in Bali

NUSA DUA, BALI: "I have a story about a married woman from Nepal to justify the importance of family planning in the present world."

This was a statement by Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNFPA, while he was referring to an urgent situation a woman from Sindhupalchok faced during the time of devastating April earthquake. Without naming the needy or describing it in detail, the UNFPA boss mentioned in the 4th International Family Conference which kicked off in Bali, Indonesia on Monday, that Nepal had a case to describe the urgency of family planning services in the time of disaster.

Though the details are still unavailable, the UN official seemed to be fully aware about the situation on how disaster prevented the needy women and girls from accessing to proper reproductive health and family planning services.

According to reports, many women and girls were forced to discontinue the use of contraceptives in the time of earthquake in Nepal while such situation, Babatunde highlighted, would have a longterm impact on women's health.

"Family planning is about women's right and their capacity to take decisions about their health and wellbeing contributing to the objectives of Family Planning 2020,” said Babatunde, calling for a global action to expand the access to contraception. “It is a most significant investment to promote human capital development, combat poverty and harness a demographic dividend thus contributing to equitable and sustainable economic development within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals."

#FamilyPlanning offers a pathway out of poverty for families and nations.” @BabatundeUNFPA #ICFP @UNFPA

— ICFP 2016 (@ICFP2016) January 25, 2016

Opening the conference, which was attended by more than 5,000 delegates from across the globe, Indonesia's President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo stated that the ICFP provided a platform to discuss the main foundations necessary to build the planet that we wanted [by 2030].

"A [future] that ensures all women and girls are empowered to choose whether and when they want to have children and space their births, so that mothers and their babies have a better opportunities for better lives.”

“The family planning data and evidence point to concrete steps we can take as a community to get back on track to meet our FP2020 goal,” said Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in his speech at the opening ceremony.

“Now we must ask ourselves what more we can do to align our efforts to ensure all women have the information and tools they need to time and space their pregnancies.”

Family planning will play a critical role in realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the new development agenda for the next 15 years, adopted in September at the United Nations General Assembly – and reducing the global unmet need for family planning services could save an estimated 1 in 4 women from deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth and prevent 1.1 million infant deaths each year. The 2016 ICFP will serve as a platform for global partners to revisit global commitments to family planning and accelerate progress towards the FP2020 goal.

Dr. Chris Elias of @gatesfoundation, “Investing in #FP is one of the best investments governments can make." #ICFP

— ICFP 2016 (@ICFP2016) January 25, 2016

Thousands of government, health and development leaders from around the world gathered in Bali, also called the island of gods and goddesses, to make the ICFP a success. Co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia, the conference is centred on the theme of “Global Commitments, Local Actions.”

During a video address included in the opening ceremony, Melinda Gates reiterated the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s commitment to increasing funding for family planning by 25 per cent over the next three years.

According to the most recent global progress report released by FP2020, a global partnership focused on enabling an additional 120 million women to access voluntary contraception by 2020, in the last three years 24.4 million more women and girls who want to avoid or delay a pregnancy have begun using modern contraceptives in the world’s poorest countries. This brings the total of women using a modern method of contraception in FP2020’s 69 target countries to 290.6 million. However, FP2020 has set annual benchmarks to measure family planning progress, and the most recent numbers revealed that modern contraceptive use is behind 2015 projections by 10 million. Despite recent progress, millions of women still cannot access the family planning information and tools they need.

At the opening ceremony, numerous global leaders discussed the global status of family planning and call for urgent action to increase access to family planning services worldwide.

During the ceremony, Jokowi and Elias also presented the first-ever Global Humanitarian Awards for Women's and Children's Health. The awards recognised individuals for their tremendous contributions and commitment to advancing maternal and child health and wellbeing, especially family planning, in communities around the world. This year’s four honourees are: Dr. Tahir, Chairman and Founder of the Tahir Foundation; Christopher Hohn, Co-founder of the Children's Investment Fund Foundation; Fayeeza Naqvi, Chairman and Co-founder, and Arif Masood Naqvi, Co-founder of the Aman Foundation.

In the following three days of the conference, scientists, researchers, policymakers and advocates attending the ICFP will discuss the latest trends, challenges, innovations, and research in the effort to increase access to family planning around the world, according to organisers.

.@BabatundeUNFPA for #ICFP: Invest in #familyplanning to build a more equitable future for all. @UNFPA

— ICFP 2016 (@ICFP2016) January 25, 2016