Mitchell: "New focus
on family planning to reduce deaths in pregnancy and childbirth"
The UK Government
is to put family planning at the heart of its approach to women’s
health in the developing world in an attempt to reduce the
persistently high number of women who die in pregnancy and
childbirth, Andrew Mitchell announced today.
The new approach will see a significant increase in the
availability of family planning to meet the demands of some of the
world’s poorest women.
Mr Mitchell said the international community had failed millions
of women by ignoring the complexities of why at least a third of a
million women in the world’s poorest countries die each year
during pregnancy and childbirth.
There are currently 215m women in the developing world who would
like to delay or avoid their next pregnancy, but do not have
access to modern family planning methods. Increasing access could
prevent up to 30 per cent of all maternal deaths and 20 per cent
of newborn deaths.
This approach – including tackling head on the unmet need for
family planning – marks a significant shift in the UK’s approach
to addressing the most off-track Millennium Development Goal: to
improve maternal health.
Speaking at the launch of a wide ranging public consultation,
“Choice for women – wanted pregnancies, safe births”, which will
seek the views of development experts, health professionals and
the public on the proposed direction of the Department’s policy,
Andrew Mitchell said:
"It is clear why reproductive and maternal health is the
most off-track of all the Millennium Development Goals. The
international community has failed to assist millions of women by
ignoring the complexities of why at least a third of a million
women in the world’s poorest countries die during pregnancy and
childbirth each year. For too long we’ve been trying to tackle the
issue with one hand tied behind our backs.
"DFID will now have an unprecedented focus on family
planning, which will be hard-wired into all our country programmes."
The Department for International Development’s new consultation
on reproductive, maternal and newborn health highlights a range of
issues including family planning, adolescent fertility, unsafe
abortion, antenatal care, and skilled care at delivery. Failure to
address these issues contributes to up to 1,000 women dying
needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth every day.
Last month the G8 pledged to prevent 1.3 million under five
deaths, 64,000 maternal deaths and enable an additional 12 million
women to have access to modern family planning over the next five
years. Britain will play a key role in meeting this commitment.
Consistent with the Government’s commitment to value for money,
key proposals for UK action on cutting deaths of mothers and
babies during pregnancy and childbirth could include:
Scaling-up access to family planning - Every
year there are 75 million unintended pregnancies. A third of all
maternal deaths could be avoided if women had access to family
planning. Scaling up the provision of contraception in developing
countries could help meet the unmet need and reduce the number of
deaths. This includes ensuring that women can access modern
methods of family planning such as implants, injectables and IUDs.
Addressing unsafe abortion: Every year unsafe abortion
results in up to 70,000 maternal deaths in developing countries. A
further 8 million women and girls need medical treatment. Only 5
million receive it. Ensuring abortion services are safe, and that
post abortion care is provided, saves lives. And increasing access
to family planning will avert many thousands of unintended
pregnancies and abortions every year.
Making birth safe - The minutes and hours
around childbirth is the time when the risk of death is greatest
for mothers and their babies: a total of over 2 million
birth-related deaths occur globally each year. For mothers who die
around the time of birth, it is rare for their baby to survive. To
address this, women need to be able to access skilled and
motivated health workers in the right place at the right time, who
have the drugs, equipment and infrastructure for a safe delivery.
Health practitioners, charities and other experts in
the field will be invited to give their views to help prioritise
the government’s work in these areas. The public will also be
consulted as part of the department’s drive to increase
transparency and accountability, ensuring they have a say in how
their money is spent.
Notes to editors:
The consultation will run for 12 weeks and the deadline for
responses is Tuesday 20 October. To view the link online go to http://consultation.dfid.gov.uk/
Almost all maternal deaths are in the developing world.
For every woman who dies, another 20 to 30 are disabled or suffer
debilitating illness – many of whom go untreated.
The lifetime risk of death from complications in pregnancy or
childbirth is 1 in 8 in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, compared to
1 in 8,200 in the UK – a 1,000 fold difference in the risk of
Globally, about one third of pregnancies are unintended. Every
year 35 million pregnancies in the developing world end in induced
abortion. An estimated 20 million of these abortions are unsafe
and result in up to 70,000 maternal deaths each year.
Every year 3.5 million newborn babies die within the first 28
days of life. Up to 45% of these deaths are in the first 24 hours
DFID, the Department for International Development: leading the
UK Government's fight against world poverty. Find out
more at http://www.dfid.gov.uk.
Department for International Development
Phone: 020 7023 0600