UN partnership set to prevent more than 140 million unintended pregnancies, 320 thousand maternal deaths by 2030, but major investment required

Reproductive Health

UN partnership set to prevent more than 140 million unintended pregnancies, 320 thousand maternal deaths by 2030, but major investment required
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 14 December 2020 — As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, announces today the next phase of the UNFPA Supplies Partnership, which seeks to secure the essential contraceptive supplies and maternal health medicines required by millions of women and adolescent girls over the next decade.

Between now and 2030, the renewed Partnership, which is the only United Nations programme dedicated to family planning, has the potential to prevent 141 million unintended pregnancies, 328,000 maternal deaths and 42 million unsafe abortions. But to achieve this, it requires an estimated investment of US $2.5 billion by 2030.

“The global community must act now with commitments to support women and girls. Failing to do so will have dire consequences: more unintended pregnancies, more unsafe abortions and more women dying from preventable causes,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “With countries leading the charge, we must rally to improve women’s health and well-being globally, especially at this time of heightened vulnerabilities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Despite mitigation efforts, COVID-19 has slowed or even reversed many countries’ decades of progress in family planning, while pandemic-related restrictions such as lockdowns, together with fears of contracting the virus, have led to fewer women seeking reproductive health services.

The Government of Canada has committed CAD$25 million (US$19.6 million) over five years to support the next phase of the UNFPA Supplies Partnership and an additional CAD$14 million (US$11 million) to cover urgent needs for contraceptives and maternal health medicines in response to COVID-19. These funds will be used to help prevent stock-outs of contraceptives and other reproductive health commodities and to support health systems to deliver them, with a focus on underserved and vulnerable populations in rural and lower-income countries.

“The pandemic has pushed public health systems to the brink and intensified inequalities. The UNFPA Supplies Partnership is uniquely positioned to address these challenges by supporting countries in their efforts to strengthen health systems and enhance resilience,” said Karina Gould, Canada’s Minister of International Development. “A more inclusive and prosperous world can only be achieved by addressing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people, and that’s exactly what we’re working towards in this Partnership.”

Countries and partners around the world are making bold commitments to support the next phase of the programme. The Government of the Netherlands has also announced a commitment of US$56 million to the Partnership. Additional donors include the Governments of: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Kühne Foundation.

Since 2007, the UNFPA Supplies programme has mobilized over US$1.8 billion. To date, contraceptive and maternal health commodities supplied by the programme had the potential to avert: 89 million unintended pregnancies, 227,000 maternal deaths; 1.4 million child deaths; and 26.8 million unsafe abortions.