DAKAR, NNC - The use of contraceptives is growing rapidly worldwide and preventing millions of unsafe abortions and maternal deaths every year in the world's poorest countries, experts say.
Nearly 40 million women and girls use modern contraceptives today compared to five years ago in 69 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, according to the Family Planning Defenders 2020 (FP2020) report.
Family planning is a key tool for reducing poverty, as it frees women to work and makes families smaller, allowing parents to devote more resources to the health and education of every child, experts say.
Condoms, birth control pills and other methods of contraception have prevented 84 million unwanted pregnancies, 26 million unsafe abortions and 125,000 maternal deaths last year, FP2020 said.
"What we see is a faster change in all countries," said Beth Schlachter, executive director of FP2020, in an explanation on the phone.
More than half of new birth control users are present in Asia, where 38 percent of women of childbearing age use modern birth control, according to FP2020 estimates.
In Africa, the rate of contraceptive use increased to 23.4 percent from 19.5 percent from 2012 to 2017, the report said.
However, the future of some family planning projects is in jeopardy since United States (US) President Donald Trump overturned a policy this year that hinders US funding for foreign groups, which conduct or provide information about abortion, Beth added.
International donors pledged to fill the gap and promised US$207 million at a family planning summit in July, but the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said it needed an additional US$700 million by 2020, and without the funds the agency would be forced to cut back on services.
At least 214 million women in developing countries lack access to birth control – resulting in 89 million unwanted pregnancies and 48 million abortions per year, according to UNFPA.
"There is a possibility of uncertainty in reality, but our community's dedication to women and girls is stronger than ever," Natalia Kanem, executive director of UNFPA, said in a statement accompanying the report, quoted by Antara on Wednesday (12/6/2017) .
The FP2020 initiative started in 2012 with the goal of allowing more than 120 million women and girls in developing countries to have access to modern contraceptives by 2020.