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For More Than 200 Million Women, A World Without Options

Written by John Skibiak for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Today, there are over 200 million women in the developing world who want to prevent or delay pregnancy, but are not using any means of modern contraception. This is, without a doubt, a horrifying figure. But the greatest tragedy for us—those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to ensuring global access to family planning—is that this figure has not budged in nearly two decades.

The gap was 200 million in the 1990s; it was 200 million in at the beginning of this decade; and it remains roughly 200 million today. Yes, contraceptive prevalence around the world is increasing — as is the number of new family planning users. But each step forward is more than matched by comparable increases in demand in new users. Therefore, despite our best efforts, we are caught in a deadlock.

We need to find a way to meet the family planning needs of a growing number of women so can we see these numbers fall.

By the year 2020, an estimated $424 million will be required in commodity support to satisfy total demand for contraceptives in donor-dependent countries. If donor funding were to remain at or near current levels, the shortfall would be almost $200 million annually, with a cumulative shortfall of about $1.4 billion over the 2008 to 2020 period. Data on other essential reproductive health (RH) commodities are less available, but it is clear that the need and demand for sexually transmitted infection diagnosis and treatment—as well as antenatal and emergency obstetric supplies—are also rapidly increasing.

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