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Updated: September 24, 2013 15:36 IST

Making choices

Aarti Dhar
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Vital steps: Expanded commitments to family planning needed. Photo: S. R. Raghunathan
The Hindu Vital steps: Expanded commitments to family planning needed. Photo: S. R. Raghunathan

A global conference on family planning in Addis Ababa in November hopes to continue the momentum to achieve full contraceptive access and choice for everyone

Thousands of political leaders, scientists, health care professionals, advocates and young leaders from around the globe will gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in November for the Third International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2013). 

Organised around the theme “Full Access, Full Choice,” ICFP 2013 will call attention to the wide-ranging benefits of helping couples plan and space their births and take stock of progress to ensure that everyone has access to voluntary family planning services and methods that meet their needs. 

ICFP 2013 will be held one year after the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, which generated unprecedented political will and financial support to reduce global unmet need for family planning by giving 120 million more women access to modern contraceptives by 2020. At ICFP 2013, participants will share the latest data, research and program findings to help achieve the summit’s goal. 

The conference, which is jointly organised by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will be preceded by a High-Level Ministerial Meeting focusing on youth and the Demographic Dividend. 

“New political and financial commitments have reinvigorated global family planning. Countries including Ethiopia, Malawi and Rwanda have stepped up, but there is still much work to be done,” said Jose “Oying” Rimon, Deputy Director of the Gates Institute. “ICFP 2013 is an opportunity to share strategies for success and continue building momentum to achieve full contraceptive access and choice for everyone everywhere.” 

The conference will recognise nations that have made new or expanded commitments to family planning and have seen the benefits of doing so. Among them is the conference’s host country, Ethiopia. Thanks to new commitments from its government, Ethiopia doubled the number of women with access to contraceptives between 2005 and 2011, and reduced unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal and child mortality. Expanding family planning also leads to better child nutrition, improved educational attainment and stronger national economies. 

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