Despite decades of international agreements declaring the need for urgent action to improve the wellbeing of women and newborns in the developing world, deaths and poor health have remained too high for too long among these groups.
Reproductive health services for women are highly cost-effective, and they are complementary because the health of mothers and of their babies is intertwined.
According to a Guttmacher institute study, new analyses have shown that the direct health benefits of meeting the need for both family planning and maternal and newborn health services would be dramatic. The study also mentions the diverse benefits of family planning.
Unintended pregnancies would drop by more than two thirds, from 75 million in 2008 to 22 million per year. Seventy per cent of maternal deaths would be averted- a decline from 550,000 to 160,000.
Forty-four percent of newborn deaths would be averted and the number of women needing medical care for complications of unsafe procedures would decline from 8.5 million to two million worldwide.
The healthy years of life lost due to disability and premature death among women and their newborns would be reduced by more than 60%.
More women would survive bleeding and infection, and fewer would endure needless suffering from fistula, infertility and other health problems related to pregnancy or childbirth.
Among the adolescents, delaying first pregnancies helps girls complete their education, and reducing the size of families lessens the chances that girls will be kept at home to care for siblings.
Also, with fewer children, parents are better able to invest in each child's schooling, particularly in their daughters' education.
Preventing poor health due to pregnancy and childbirth saves families the cost of caring for a sick member and prevents a loss of productivity and income.
Effectively addressing unmet need would reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and redeem costs from treatment for complications of childbirth and unsafe abortion.
"Declines in birth rates continue to vary widely among regions, and within countries in a particular region," according to Population Reference Bureau fact sheet. There are 25 countries in Africa where women have five or more children each.
Worldwide total fertility rate (TFR) or average number of children per woman) is 2.4, and 4.4 in the poorest countries. TFRs range from a low of 1.1 in Latvia and Taiwan, to a high of 7.1 in Niger. Uganda is 6.7.