UNFPA marks World Population Day as Myanmar struggles with access to family planning

  • Written by Mizzima
  • Published in Mizzima

The UNFPA is celebrating World Population Day on July 11 under the theme “Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations”.

As the UNFPA points out, thanks to voluntary family planning, millions of women in Myanmar are empowered to make a choice in the number of children they want, and to start their families later in life. This gives them an opportunity to complete their schooling, earn a better living, and escape the trap of poverty. Investments in family planning create a reinforcing cycle of empowerment, which supports healthy, educated and economically productive women and families, propelling development forward.

The theme for World Population Day, 11 July 2017, is “Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations”. The Day coincides with the London Family Planning Summit, which will be attended by Dr Myint Htwe, Union Minister for Health and Sports. The Government of Myanmar and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, are organizing a Summit satellite event in Nay Pyi Taw under the umbrella of World Population Day.

The London Summit brings together the stakeholders of the FP2020 initiative which aims to expand access to voluntary family planning to 120 million more women globally by 2020. In Myanmar, the Government’s commitment to FP2020 is to reach a modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) of 60 per cent, and to reduce unmet need for family planning to below 10 per cent by 2020.

Today, half of married women (52 per cent) in Myanmar practice family planning. One in six women (16 per cent) have an unmet need for contraceptives. This means that although they would like to, they cannot access modern methods of contraception. This leads to unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal and infant death, and it limits women in their work and career choices.

From 2014 to 2016, UNFPA provided family planning, and life-saving maternal and reproductive health commodities worth US$9.6 million, and invested US$1.4 million into a new logistics system to track where supplies are being used and how they are being used. This contributed significantly to the national achievement where, in 2016 alone, access to modern contraceptives and the availability of lifesaving medicines for mothers helped avert:1,340,000 unintended pregnancies, 466,000 unsafe abortions, and 1,000 maternal deaths

The right to exercise voluntary family planning is an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals, including target 3.7 to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health services.