Sunday, May 3, 2009

Experts Call on Obama to Recommit U.S. Funds to Family Planning and Reproductive Health Programmes

From 1978 through 2006, Joseph Speidel, Steven Sinding, Duff Gillespie, Elizabeth Macquire and Margaret Neuse successively directed the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Population and Reproductive Health program. These five development experts recently issued a report entitled Making the Case for U.S. International Family Planning Assistance, urging President Obama to double U.S. Investments in USAID programmes.

USAID was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, and since then has implemented reproductive health programmes in 50 countries. The programme’s funding peaked in 1995, and has continuously declined thereafter. The five said that this may have resulted from the (mistaken) belief that rapid global population growth has halted; from diversion of resources to other needs. . . and from lack of understanding that family planning is not only essential for women's health, but also a critical part of any successful development strategy." In actuality, donor funds for family planning programmes are more crucial now than ever before as countries around the world work to achieve major progress in the arena of sexual and reproductive health in order to meet approaching international deadlines.

The five development experts suggested that President Obama should move quickly to meet the growing demand for planning services worldwide if the goals of the ICPD and Millennium Development Goals are to be reached. U.S. investment in contraceptive supply and reproductive health programmes run by USAID should be doubled, and the United States should recommit itself as a world leader in family planning. With a new administration and Congress in session, the experts urged a reversal in former funding policies that did not meet the demand for women's reproductive health services, and suggested an increase to $1.2 billion for USAID's population budget by 2010. A future increase to $1.5 billion in 2014 was also predicted, taking into account their imminent plans to expand their work into 17 additional countries with unmet family planning needs. The continuous decline in family planning and reproductive health funding has forced many successful programs to remain stagnant or close. The global fertility decline has slowed and the number of women dying from pregnancy-related complications is unacceptable. The U.S. should take the lead in re-establishing appropriate funding to programmes such as USAID, setting the example for countries worldwide to realize the importance of family planning, and commit themselves to effective programmes.

The report discusses the global unmet need for family planning, family planning as a global success story, family planning as a declining priority, USAID as an effective and capable agency, and the request for more funds. Examples of countries excelling in the fields of family planning and reproductive health are also examined throughout the report, and should be looked to as a resource for South-South cooperation.

The entire report can be found online at

An audio clip of the press conference for USAID can be heard at

To read more about what President Obama has accomplished in his first 100 days, regarding women's health, check out

1 comment:

Kirstie Ruby said...

On May 8th, President Obama released his 2010 budget proposal which will increase family planning assistance to a record $593 million. Additionally, the proposal allots $50 million as a contribution to UNFPA. President Obama's budget proposal is revolutionary not only in the amount dictated, but also in regards to his reversal of Bush era policies which allowed funding for programmes that specifically promoted abstinence. A focus on preventing teen pregnancy through contraceptive use is emphasized and funding is now allotted for programmes that had previously been denied consideration due to their reluctance to focus solely on abstinence.

To learn more about President Obama's budget proposal, visit: