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Landmark Summit Puts Women at Heart of Global Health Agenda

Global leaders unite to provide 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries with access to contraceptives by 2020.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phone: +1 206 709 3400
Email: media@gatesfoundation.org

London, July 11, 2012 –Voluntary family planning services will reach an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries by 2020 thanks to a new set of commitments announced today by more than 150 leaders from donor and developing countries, international agencies, civil society, foundations and the private sector.

The announcement was made at the London Summit on Family Planning, co-hosted by the UK Government’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This unprecedented effort showcased innovative partnerships and leadership at the country level, empowering women to reach their full potential. The Summit underscored the importance of access to contraceptives as both a right and a transformational health and development priority.

Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, said: “This is a breakthrough for the world's poorest girls and women which will transform lives, now and for generations to come. The commitments made at the Summit today will support the rights of women to determine freely, and for themselves, whether, when and how many children they have.”

“Enabling an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries to access and use contraception, something women in the developed world take for granted, will save millions of lives and enable girls and women to determine their own futures.”

By 2020, the collective efforts announced today will result in 200,000 fewer women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, more than 110 million fewer unintended pregnancies, over 50 million fewer abortions, and nearly three million fewer babies dying in their first year of life.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “When I travel and talk to women around the world they tell me that access to contraceptives can often be the difference between life and death. Today is about listening to their voices, about meeting their aspirations, and giving them the power to create a better life for themselves and their families.”

The Summit has 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.

Contraceptive use also leads to more education and greater opportunities for girls, helping to end the cycle of poverty for them and their families. Up to a quarter of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa drop out of school due to unintended pregnancies, stifling their potential to improve their lives and their children’s lives.

The Summit galvanized the global community to create transformational change, calling for innovative solutions and robust public-private partnerships that put women at the heart of the equation. Commitments announced today will give women more options, easier access, and improved health care.

The Summit supports and builds on the momentum created by the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, “Every Woman, Every Child,” and innovative public-private and civil society partnerships developed through the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. The Summit also aligns with the broader framework established by the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) almost 20 years ago.

Media assets including b-roll and photos can be found here: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/press-room/Pages/news-market.aspx.

Details on donor commitments will be made available here: http://www.londonfamilyplanningsummit.co.uk/media.php#media-kit.

Notes for Editors

The estimated resource requirement for sustaining the current use of contraception by 260 million women in the 69 poorest countries is approximately US$10bn over eight years from 2012 to 2020. These resources – which are principally provided by country governments through their health budgets and are supported by contributions from consumers and external donors – need to be sustained. Reaching an additional 120 million women will require resources equivalent to an additional US$4.3bn over the next eight years. This number includes resources and infrastructure supported by developing countries. Of the $4.3bn total resource requirements, donors will need to contribute $2.3bn in funds above and beyond the level of funding provided for family planning in 2010.

Many donors have already announced increased commitments to family planning between 2012 and 2015 as part of the 2010 G8 Muskoka Summit and the UN Secretary General’s ‘Every Woman Every Child’ initiative. These additional contributions, disbursed from 1 January 2012 onwards, are above and beyond the level of funding provided for family planning in 2010 and therefore contribute to the additional funding sought for the Summit to reaching an additional 120 million women and girls. The Summit has agreed a methodology with donors for estimating the proportion of wider health commitments that contribute to family planning.

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The Department for International Development
The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK government's effort to fight global poverty. DFID's overall aim is to reduce poverty in poorer countries, in particular through achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This will be done by honouring the UK's international commitments; making British aid more effective by improving transparency and value for money; leading international action to improve the lives of girls and women; strengthening governance and security in fragile and conflict-affected countries; boosting wealth creation; and driving urgent action to tackle climate change.

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