December 14, 2015

UHC Day: 4 Reasons to Give New Priority Attention to Voluntary Family Planning

Written by Sandy Garçon, Manager, External Relations and Communications, PSI


This December 12th, we join a global coalition in calling for greater action on universal health coverage (UHC). PSI is committed to the goal of UHC, which means ensuring that every person, everywhere, has access to essential and quality health care they need without causing undue financial hardship.

As the global momentum builds towards #HealthForAll, voluntary family planning is an essential health need and right that is simply out of reach for millions of women and families. Over 200 million women worldwide who want to avoid or delay pregnancy do not have access to contraception. These women have an unmet need that can result in a host of health concerns and strains on individuals, families and entire economies.

The global community, as outlined in United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3), has codified UHC as a way to ensure equitable access to health care to those most in need.

As we mark the second UHC Day, here are four important considerations for giving new priority to family planning in health system reforms:

  • Promote health and save lives – UHC is critical to providing access to safe and effective methods of contraception for all, including the most vulnerable. This translates to a reduction in the likelihood of unintended and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, high-risk births, and disease and death from pregnancy-related complications.
  • Reduce barriers to equitable access – UHC is necessary to making comprehensive voluntary family planning – including access to counseling, information and a wide range of contraceptive methods – affordable and available to a greater number of women and girls. For millions of women and girls in low- and middle-income countries, this means not having to make a choice between their voluntary family planning needs and basic necessities. It also means being able to choose and effectively use the method that best meets their needs, and to switch methods when desired.
  • Ensure continued access to private sector services – UHC is not effective without incorporating the private sector, which accounts for a growing source of reproductive health care in the developing world. Across 20 low-income countries, more than a third of the voluntary family planning services are provided by the private sector — including private pharmacies, individual practitioners, clinics and hospitals, and retailers. Introducing national health insurance schemes that include voluntary family planning can make markets more efficient and in turn expand women’s access to services and products.
  • Contribute to individual and family well-being – Improving access to affordable voluntary family planning allows those with the greatest needs to better plan their lives and desired family size. With the ability to plan and space pregnancies as as they choose, women and girls are better able to achieve education goals, seek employment and contribute to family income and savings.
  • UHC that includes voluntary family planning at its core offers the opportunity to close the access gap, mitigate the health challenges and lead to a host of benefits for those with the greatest needs.

Please share this tweet to show your support for universal health coverage worldwide. 

Too many people are waiting for #UHC and #familyplanning access. It’s time to guarantee #HealthForAll!