Population Matters

Unmet need for contraception remains

Unmet need for contraception remains

The Guttmacher Institute and UNFPA recently released a report called Adding It Up: The Costs and Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health 2014, which revealed the staggering levels of unmet need for basic and essential sexual and reproductive health services in developing regions.


There is evidence of a shift from larger to smaller families in many third-world countries. This trend represents one of the most important transformations in developing regions in recent decades and is being made possible in part by the availability of modern contraception. However, many women continue to face barriers to accessing contraception. While some women simply are unable to access contraception and family planning services, others are prevented from accessing it by a lack of education or empowerment that stems from discrimination and gender inequality.

Providing modern contraception for all women who require it entails not only allocating greater funding to the cause, but providing accurate information and having an adequate number of service sites and community-based workers.

The amount currently spent on modern contraceptive services worlwide is approximately $4.1 billion. The report reveals that fully meeting the need for modern contraceptive services would cost about $9.4 billion. The increased spending would result in approximately 52 million fewer unintended pregnancies and about 21 million fewer unplanned births. These figures show the close relationships among contraception, family planning and population growth, all of which significantly impact consumption levels.

Crowd of people

Ever more people need ever more space and human activity continues to encroach on natural environments. This threatens biodiversity. Promoting stable population growth is directly related to preserving global resources and biodiversity.

In developing countries, the first priority is to provide women with universal access to family planning, as set out in Millennium Development Goal 5b. Without access, women are unable to exercise their reproductive rights. Access to reproductive health services — including contraception — is central to slowing, halting and reversing population growth.

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