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Call for Europe to lead in revitalizing family planning agenda in world's poorest countries

A leading population expert will today make a plea for a revitalisation of the family planning agenda in the world's poorest countries, cautioning that soaring population rates are now a bigger threat to achieving the MDGs than HIV/AIDS.

John Cleland, Professor of Medical Demography at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, has contributed a paper to a major series on sexual and reproductive health which is launched online today in the Lancet.

Professor Cleland and his co-authors assert that investment in family planning should have a higher priority than investment in HIV prevention and treatment in most poor countries, because it poses a greater threat to international development. He also maintains that leadership may now need to come from European governments and agencies, rather than the United States which has, historically, led on this issue.

Family planning promotion is unique among medical interventions in the breadth of its potential benefits in terms of achieving the MDGs. It reduces poverty, maternal, and child mortality (in 2000, about 90% of global abortion-related and 20% of obstetric-related mortality an morbidity could have been averted by the use of effective contraception amounting to 150,000 deaths avoided). It contributes to achieving universal primary schooling, empowers women by reducing the burden of excessive childbearing, and enhances environmental sustainability by stabilising the population of the planet.

In the past forty years, family planning programmes have played a major part in raising the prevalence of contraceptive practice from less than 10% to 60% and reducing fertility in developing countries from six to about three births per woman. But the battle is by no means over - in half the 75 low- and lower-middle-income countries (mainly in Africa) contraceptive practice remains low and fertility, population growth and unmet need for family planning remain high. Many countries i
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Contact: Lindsay Wright
20-792-72073
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
2-Nov-2006


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