News / Health

Family Planning Summit Set for Ethiopia

UN, USAID say millions of women have unmet family planning needs.
UN, USAID say millions of women have unmet family planning needs.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on family planning conference

Joe DeCapua
About 4,000 people are expected to attend this year’s International Conference on Family Planning. The three day meeting opens November 12 in Addis Ababa. The theme is Full Access, Full Choice.


Organizers described the conference as “a movement and platform” in the family planning agenda. They say Ethiopia was chosen to host this year’s meeting because of its strong commitment to family planning and its access to modern contraceptive methods.

A new resource will be unveiled at the conference called Programming Strategies for Postpartum Family Planning. It’s a joint effort by the World Health Organization, USAID, the U.N. Population Fund and ministries of health from many countries, among others. It’s called a “roadmap” for designing effective postpartum family planning programs at both the local and national levels.

“This resource is going to change how family planning is provided to women around the time of birth in the postpartum,” said Anne Pfitzer, family planning team leader for the USAID’s Maternal Child Health Integrated Program or MCHIP.

She said that during postpartum – the time after childbirth -- women have distinct and unmet family planning needs.

“We have seen that postpartum family planning is essential, is needed. It saves lives. We think that this resource document is going to help many countries do more to reach women, who right now may be confused about family planning options right around the time of birth.”

In fact, she said, many women may be unaware of the risk of becoming pregnant again so soon after giving birth.

“In many countries, too many closely spaced births, which are associated with negative outcomes for both mothers and babies in terms of their health. We know, I think intuitively that mothers don’t want to have a baby every year. Mortality curves show much better outcomes between three to five years between pregnancies.”

Organizers said data for 27 developing countries show that “95 percent of postpartum women want to avoid another pregnancy” in the two years following birth. They added that “65 percent have an unmet need for contraception.”

“The problem I think is that many women themselves are confused about when they might get pregnant after a pregnancy. They have misconception about methods of family planning – how they interact with breastfeeding, for example. Or sometimes they think that because it took them three years to get pregnant last time it will be the same this time around. And in fact six months later they’re pregnant again,” Pfitzer said.

Organizers estimate that “287,000 women die every year from problems caused by childbirth – and that one in four women could be saved if they had global access to contraception.” What’s more, they say 200 million couples in the developing world are “unable to control the number and spacing” of the birth of their children.

In the United States, family planning is often a political issue – with debates over privacy, abortion and a woman’s right to choose.

Pfitzer said, “It’s unfortunate that in the U.S. family planning has become controversial. It shouldn’t happen in this day and age. Couples should have the chance to plan the number and timing of their children and have all the options available to them to do so.”

Ethiopian fashion model Liya Kebede is helping to launch Programming Strategies for Postpartum Family Planning. She has a foundation promoting maternal health.

This year’s International Conference on Family Planning is co-hosted by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs