Global efforts for family planning

Advancement of Women In Northern Darfur, Sudan (UN Photo/Olivier Chassot)

At the 2005 World Summit, Governments committed to “achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015, as set out at the International Conference on Population and Development.” The importance was validated at the 2010 high-level plenary meeting of the 65th session of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals.

Governments then pledged to ensure that “all women, men and young people have information about, access to and choice of the widest possible range of safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning”.

As a contribution to the monitoring of the implementation of those promises, DESA’s Population Division released “World Contraceptive Use 2010,” which provides data on contraceptive prevalence for 193 countries and on unmet needs of family planning for 107 countries. The datasets categorize data by country, region and development on modern and traditional contraceptive prevalence, as well as the unmet needs of family planning, from 1950 to 2010.

According to the most recent data, contraceptive prevalence among women of reproductive age who are married or in a union varies between 3 per cent in Chad and 88 per cent in Norway. Globally, contraceptive prevalence is estimated at 63 per cent and is somewhat higher in more developed regions.

Trends in contraceptive prevalence contrast among development groups. In more developed regions, it has been high for many decades and its level has changed little since 2000. In the less developed regions, contraceptive prevalence has increased substantially in the past decade. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, 48 of the countries with data available, have a level of contraceptive prevalence below 20 per cent and only 22 per cent of women of reproductive age who are married or in a union use contraception.

Among countries with available data, the level of unmet needs for family planning varies from 2 per cent in France to 46 per cent in Samoa. In Africa, nearly half of the 44 countries with data have unmet need levels ranging from 20 per cent to 30 per cent of all women. In Asia, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, by contrast, the majority of countries with data have unmet need levels below 20 per cent.   

The data will be instrumental in supporting the theme of “Fertility, reproductive health and development” at the forthcoming session of the Commission on Population and Development, to be held at UN Headquarters on 11-15 April.

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