Foreign Policy Blogs

USAID ends contraception funding for Africa's poorest

The US Agency for International Development is advancing Bush's conservative pro-life stand. Tens of thousands of Africa's poorest  will no longer receive any US funded aid nor counseling on contraception. Six African nations have been ordered to stop distributing US funded contraceptives.  Marie Stopes International (MSI), a UK charity organization with clinics in 40 countries is a major distributor of US supplied contraceptives.   The organization is heavily involved in Africa and has been blacklisted by Bush for supposedly advancing China's controversial family planning policy.

“The irony and hypocrisy of it is that this is a bone to the self-described ‘pro-life’ movement, but it will result in deaths to women who just want to space their births,” said Dana Hovig, the chief executive of MSI. Bush's decision, according to the organization, will result in an additional 157,000 unwanted pregnancies per year leading to 62,000 additional abortions and 660 women dying in childbirth.

China's controversial measures at population control include forced abortion procedures. According to a 2005 Freedom Report, China's use of forced abortion is rare though isolated incidences continue in rural areas. China's Population and Family Planning Law require couples to use contraceptive measures.

Under funding family planning and contraception will not improve the maternal health of women.  More than half million pregnancies end in mortality according to the 2005 United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report.  Organizations like MSI provide vital services including outreach programs and initiatives with local governments, women groups, and health workers.

USAID's Maternal and Child Health Strategic Approach for Africa report makes no mention of family planning nor contraception.  However according to USAID's own research contraception has the following advantages during the postpartum period:

  • Reduce unwanted pregnancies and possible resulting deaths;
  • Prevent pregnancies at the extremes of reproductive age, when risk of maternal and infant mortality is greatest;
  • Enable women to space their births three to five years apart thus optimizing the health and survival prospects of women and infants, and among HIV-positive women;
  • Reduce the number of cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
 

Author

Nikolaj Nielsen

Nikolaj Nielsen has a Master's of Journalism and Media degree from a program partnership of three European universities - University of Arhus in Denmark, University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Swansea University in Wales. His work has been published at Reuters AlertNet, openDemocracy.net, the New Internationalist and others.

Areas of Focus:
Torture; Women and Children; Asylum;

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Great Decisions Discussion group