Why spending money on family planning in developing countries benefits us all

LBC Radio presenter Nick Ferrari yesterday criticised the government for spending aid money on family planning programmes in Malawi.

While speaking about the NHS on his radio show, he incorrectly stated £13 billion in foreign aid is “providing contraceptive clinics in Malawi.” The Express then published a story based on his inaccurate comments online.

The truth is we provide £27 million over a seven year period (2011 – 2018) through the DFID Malawi country programme to increase the use of effective family planning methods.

This money will prevent:

  • more than 4,000 maternal deaths
  • 1.5 million unintended pregnancies and;
  • more than 250,000 unsafe abortions.

We have consistently been clear we do not face a stark choice between spending on international development or British healthcare.

This government is able to do both. And our aid investments do not direct any resources away from the NHS.

In fact, UK aid is tackling the root causes of global challenges such as disease, mass migration and terrorism that know no borders and this is making Britain safer, which is firmly in our interests.

Family planning transforms women’s lives – giving them the choices and control over their futures that women in the UK enjoy today.

In July, we announced the UK will rise to the challenge and spend an average of £225 million every year for the next five years. 

The UK’s total package of support until 2022 will every year:

  • help save the lives of over 6,000 women by preventing maternal deaths – that’s one woman every 90 minutes
  • support nearly 20 million women to receive voluntary contraceptives through family planning services
  • help avert 6 million unintended pregnancies
  • help prevent the trauma of 75,000 stillbirths and nearly 44,000 new-born deaths

DFID’s family planning support in the world’s poorest countries is helping women finish their education, get better jobs and in turn provide for their smaller planned families rather than being trapped in a cycle of grinding poverty through unplanned pregnancies. This creates more prosperous and stable societies, helping reduce aid dependency.

We should be proud that Britain is leading the world on sexual and reproductive health, helping millions more women in the world’s poorest countries to access and use desperately-needed family planning services. The Malawi programme, as an example, is expected to benefit three million hard to reach women by the end of this year.

We recognise this is not a job for the UK alone. That is why we hosted the global family planning summit in London in July 2017, which brought governments, businesses and NGOs from around the world together to make commitments on family planning to address the long term need and unsustainable population growth.

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