Malawi making progress in fertility rate reduction as UK co-hosts international Family Planning Summit

A high level Malawi delegation will from Tuesday, 11 July attend international family planning summit which seeks to accelerate progress on the commitment to increase modern contraceptive prevalence rate for all women thereby enabling 120 million additional women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020.

Minister of Health, Peter Kumpalume: Lead Malawi delegation

The Summit comes five years after the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, which spurred massive commitments to family planning, including from Malawi, and led to the creation of the Family Planning 2020 partnership.

Commenting on the Summit and its importance to Malawi, Minister of Health Dr Peter Kumpalume said the country has so far made progress by reducing fertility rate from 5.7 in 2010 to 4.4 in 2016.

“The summit could not come at a better time as Malawi is taking stock of the progress that the country has made in the area of sexual and reproductive health and the challenges we are facing to achieve our goal of 60% of all women to have access to modern family planning methods of their choice by the year 2020,” Kumpalume said.

He added, “We have increased modern contraceptive uptake from 44% to 58% for married women and 50% for all women however for the youth and unmarried the uptake is still low at 43%. Teenage pregnancies are on the increase from 26% in 2010 to 29% in 2016. The unmet needs for family planning for married women although reducing (28% in 2010 to 19% in 2016) for all women it is still high for the youth.”

The Health Minister further stressed that there is high level commitment by Government to address the issue of population growth by improving availability and access of modern family planning commodities, by increasing government budgetary allocation specific for procurement of modern family planning methods over the years.

Head of DFID in Malawi, Jen Marshall said the summit demonstrates UK’s global leadership on family planning, sexual and reproductive health, saying the UK is a major supporter of national efforts to scale up access to family planning services and improving reproductive and maternal health.

“The DFID is currently implementing a large £27.37m (25.6 MWK) Family Planning Programme that provides essential commodities and funds BLM clinic and outreach services across the country.

“Expanding access to voluntary, modern contraception and family planning programmes is one of the most cost-effective ways to break the cycle of poverty. It empowers people to plan their futures and reach their fullest potential. It has an important effect on reducing population growth and population pressure on land, services and other resources,” the DFID Head in Malawi noted.

Marshall further explained, “Malawi has made important progress by reaching a 50% modern contraceptive prevalence rate, particularly reaching older, married women. Strong leadership, greater action and more investment are all needed to meet unmet need for contraception. The need is particularly high amongst youth.

“Some 47% of females marry before their eighteenth birthday and nearly one in three girls, whether married or not, is a mother before they are 20. For Malawi’s pathway out of poverty, whether appropriate information and services are used by those adolescents and young people under 20 (and other vulnerable populations) will be one of the deciding factors between poverty and prosperity.

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