SDG target: Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including those for family planning.
Before COVID-19, there was good news about this indicator. In West Africa, for instance, where progress had been slow, the number of women using contraceptives more than doubled between 2011 and 2020.
But as the chart shows, health care systems are now struggling to provide family planning services. For example, postpartum family planning—helping women space their next pregnancy after they have a baby—is vitally important but doesn’t always happen at health facilities, let alone when women deliver at home. And because family planning can enable a healthier, more prosperous future for mothers and their babies, these gaps in care could have lasting adverse effects.
One solution is to shift toward a model of self-care that equips women and families with the expertise, tools, and confidence to plan without having to rely on the health care system. This can include specific interventions like self-injectable contraceptives or platforms like telemedicine, but it is broader than that. Self-care is deeply rooted in women’s needs and can promote access to family planning and other essential health services.