US Lagging Behind on Funding International Family Planning & Reproductive Health — Global Issues

A group of smiling children in Ismail Bhand village, Shaheed Benazirabad district, Sindh province, Pakistan. Credit: UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani
  • Opinion by Maniza Habib (Washington DC)
  • Associated Press Service

Biden-Harris FY2024 Budget requirements proposed investment of $619.43 million for bilateral family planning/reproductive health programs plus $57.5 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – a total of $676.8 million. That’s 11% more than Congress appropriated last year, and that’s one of the only proposed funding increases in the field of global health this year, but it’s still a fraction of what’s needed.

The United States’ fair share of contribution, which is the proportionately necessary contribution to ensure that all women of reproductive age in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are met modern contraceptive, is counted as 1.736 billion dollars.

Family planning helps people take control of their own bodies and futures. At its core, it is about empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their sex and reproductive lives, including whether, when and how many children to have, and the distance between them. birth in space.

Access to family planning helps women to pursue their education and participate more meaningfully in economic and political life.

These are all necessary components of gender equality. However, U.S. funding for international FP/RH has remained flat for a decade as global populations, reproductive health needs, and barriers to access increase. The time has come for the United States to fulfill its responsibility to help bridge the gap.

There are 923 million women of reproductive age in LMICs who want contraception. About a quarter of them (218 million won) has an unmet need for modern contraception. They want to avoid pregnancy but do not use modern methods. The reason for this varies from government restrictions about access to contraceptives for service providers who refuse to distribute them while traveling difficult distance to the nearest clinic.

These barriers are compounded by discrimination based on gender. For example, the stigma surrounding contraception and sex makes it particularly difficult to young, single woman to access services.

Disadvantaged groups face discrimination in clinics, including in the United States, where members of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants and Blacks, Indigenous peoples, and people of color different color services and resources are often denied to meet their family planning needs.

The world needs stronger support from the United States to overcome these obstacles and pave the way for global gender equality. Given the lack of adequate investment to remove barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) worldwide, U.S. support for inclusive gender equality goals will inevitably weakened, a new Population Institute report find.

Some governments are showing they understand the issue and are changing policies accordingly. For example, President Xiomara Castro of Honduras just removed a 14 year ban on emergency contraception, which will revolutionize access to FP/RH services. Starting April 1, the government of British Columbia will provide Free prescription birth control.

The United States has the responsibility to lead on global SRHR but has given up its leadership role in recent years and is being left behind. U.S. bilateral and multilateral FP/RH programs have been attacked, especially after Restrictive policy in the Trump era.

The modest increase The funding for family planning/reproductive health in the current budget proposal shows that the Biden-Harris administration recognizes the importance of global RH/RH. But it doesn’t reflect the urgency or the level of commitment required.

At the same time, it undercuts the SRHR by including the Helms Amendment, an outdated ban on the use of US foreign aid for abortion as a method of family planning. In effect, implementing the Helms Amendment means denying abortion even in cases of rape or incest, or in cases where it would save a woman’s life.

The failure to target a fair share of US FP/RH funding in the latest budget proposal is a missed opportunity. Let’s not miss anymore. The global population recently passed the 8 billion mark and the demand is increasing.

We can meet this moment by recognizing the fundamental links between SRHR, gender equality, and sustainable development, and accepting the U.S. obligation to take the lead in achieving them.

Maniza Habib is a Research Associate at the Population Institute, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that supports reproductive health and rights.

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service


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