The Observer (Kampala)

20 September 2012

Uganda: Increasing Access to Quality Reproductive Health Services

opinion

On July 11, 2012, the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with UNFPA and other partners hosted a groundbreaking Summit that mobilized global policy, financing, commodity, and service delivery commitments to support the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries to use contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020.

Contraceptives are one of the best investments a country can make in its future. Today, there are more than 200 million women and girls in developing countries who do not want to get pregnant but lack access to contraceptives, information, and services - which, for many, will cost them their lives.

It has been proven that family planning saves lives, improves health, strengthens communities, and stimulates economic growth. The time is now for developing countries, donors, international agencies, the private sector, and civil society to come together to help the world's poorest women.

In addition, the London Summit on Family Planning underscored revitalizing global commitments to family planning and access to contraceptives as a cost-effective and transformational development priority; improving the access and distribution of contraceptive supplies, plus removing and reducing barriers to family planning

Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO), as part of the Advance Family Planning (AFP) Consortium (which includes Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, African Women's Development Fund, and Futures Group International), supports AFP's goal of increasing funding and improving policy commitments at all levels of national governments, among bilateral and multilateral donors, and the private sector.

AFP builds on past investments and ongoing activities in reproductive health advocacy, leadership development, knowledge generation, and innovative service delivery projects. AFP is an evidence-based project that is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO) is a Southern-led, Southern-run inter-governmental organization linking 14 African countries, each with a strong commitment to the partnership's vision- a continent that meets its reproductive health needs, promotes the population and development agenda and thereby addresses poverty, through South-South cooperation.

PPD ARO provides a platform for the promotion of and mobilization of resources for reproductive health and population and development in Africa through three elements: policy dialogue and resource mobilization; building networks and strategic partnerships; and sharing experiences and best practices in the context of South-South cooperation.

PPD ARO supports the spirit of the London Family Planning Summit that raised the resources to deliver contraceptives to an additional 120 million women which is estimated to cost $4.3 billion. More than 20 developing countries made bold commitments to address the policy, financing and delivery barriers to women accessing contraceptive information, services and supplies.

Donors made new financial commitments to support these plans amounting to $2.6 billion - exceeding the Summit's financial goal. Access to safe, effective methods of contraception is considered one of the most cost-effective investments a country can make in its future. Studies show that every US $1 invested in family planning services yields up to $6 in savings on health, housing, water, and other public services.

PPD ARO has noted that Uganda has made commendable progress on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In particular, poverty has been reduced; universal primary education for both girls and boys has been promoted. Women involvement in all spheres of national development has been promoted. Ugandans are living longer as a result of implementing pro-poor programmes. Recently, the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (2011) has shown that infant mortality reduced very considerably.

At the Family Planning London Summit, Uganda committed itself to ensuring an enabling policy environment to allow women to exercise their family planning choices by increasing the financial investment into family planning, and strengthen service delivery. Specifically, Government committed itself to increase its allocation for family planning supplies from $3.3 million per year currently to $5 million per year for the next five years and mobilize an additional $5 million from donors.

This will be supported by development of a reproductive health sub-account to track RH resources flows. In addition, Government of Uganda committed to strengthening the National Medial Stores to improve distribution of reproductive health supplies/commodities to public and private health delivery units so as to prevent stock-out of family planning supplies.

All these plans are set out in a Road Map that will ensure Uganda reaches its goal of universal access to family planning which in turn, will help Uganda achieve its National Development Plan goals of reducing maternal and child mortality and attaining Middle Income Country status.

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