2.7 million women using contraception in Uganda

2.7 million women using contraception in Uganda
Community health worker holds subcutaneous DMPA device

More than one million women and girls in Uganda opted to use modern family planning methods in the last one year, a new report released at the International Conference on Family Planning reveals.

The number of women using modern methods of contraception in Uganda increased by 1,076,000 in 2018, bringing the total number of women now using modern methods of contraception to 2,790,000.

The report produced by Family Planning 2020, entitled FP2020: catalyzing Collaboration, for the first time also captured information on domestic government allocation to reproductive health.

“The Uganda government spent $2.3 million (UGX8.3 billion) in 2016 on making family planning services available to women and girls who need them,” said Martyn Smith, Managing Director FP2020.

Smith said modern contraception use among women in Uganda has been growing at the rate of 1 percent annually since 2012. The growth rate is however higher among married women or women in union, at 1.3 percent annually.

The report on family planning in the world’s 69 poorest countries shows that as a result of increased used of family planning in Uganda, in 2018; 1,036,000 unintended pregnancies were prevented, 228,000 unsafe abortions averted and 2500 mothers saved from dying.

The government of Uganda in 2012 set an ambitious goal of having 50 percent of women and girls on modern contraception methods by 2020.

However, with less than two years to the deadline, the modern contraceptive prevalence rate stands at 27.5 percent and it is projected to reach 29.5 percent by 2020. The unmet need for modern contraception stands at 32.6 percent.

The 2018 report was released Monday afternoon, ahead of the International Conference on Family Planning in the Rwanda capital , Kigali, this week from 12-15, 2018.

FP2020 focuses on enabling additional 120 million women access voluntary contraception by 2020. Since 2012, 46 million more women and girls have adopted the modern methods of preventing or delaying pregnancies.

Speaking at the released, Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund expressed worries that many women and girls still lack access to family planning.

“It is my biggest worry that we still have a long way to bring lifesaving modern contraceptive of her choice to every woman and girls no matter where she is or who she is, so it is time to pick up the pace,” said Kanem.

“If we are going to keep our promise (to women and girls), we have to think differently, go beyond linear thinking and be disruptive,” Dr Chris Elias, President of the Global Development program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said.

The report also shows how better access to family planning can deliver a powerful demographic dividend that can help transform economies; as birth rate drops and the ration of adults to dependent children increase.

Fewer dependents to support, a country can invest more in education, infrastructure and other productivity-enhancing measures.

“Family planning empowers women and empowered women are economic dynamos: joining the labour force, starting their own business and investing in their communities.

This sparks a ripple effect that generates vast benefits across society, driving productivity, prosperity and sustainability,” said Executive Director of Family Planning 2020, Beth Schlachter.

McKinsey Global Institute estimates that some $28 trillion would be added to global GDP if women were able to participate at the same level as men in economic activities.

Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with over 75 percent youth. According to UNFP, if Uganda’s large population of young adults can find productive employment, then the country will enjoy a first demographic dividend, raising the current standard of living and spurring the economy.