Access to family planning a human right: UN report

Updated: 2012-11-15 05:31


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UNITED NATIONS - The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday called family planning a human right, and emphasized the economic benefits family planning can have for the greater society.

"Voluntary family planning is a human right," said Richard Kollege, author of the UNFPA report "The State of World Population 2012", at a press conference here. The report was released on Wednesday.

"Because it's a right, everyone who wants access to family planning should have access," he said.

Currently, 222 million women have an unmet need for contraception. The UNFPA estimates that 4.1 billion U.S. dollars are needed to address these needs.

This estimate comes after a family planning summit which took place in London four months ago raised 4.6 billion U.S. dollars in commitments from donor countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The report shows that "making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs for maternal and newborn health care by 11.3 billion annually."

Meeting contraception needs would not only reduce health care costs but allow "young women to truly plan for work, school and childbearing on their terms," said Kollege.

Ultimately, the report said, this allows women to make greater contributions to the economy, increase productivity and drive development.

"Increased access to family planning has proven to be a sound economic investment," the UN agency said in a press release.  "The costs of ignoring the right of family planning include poverty, exclusion, poor health and gender inequality."