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UNFPA Report: Access to family planning is an essential human right

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Birth controlAccess to family planning is an essential human right that unlocks unprecedented rewards for economic development, says new UNFPA report.

Making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs for maternal and newborn health care by $11.3 billion annually, according to The State of World Population 2012, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

Increased access to family planning has proven to be a sound economic investment. One third of the growth of Asian “tiger” economies is attributed to a demographic shift in which the number of income-generating adults became higher than those who depended on them for support. This shift, says the report, was a consequence of family planning and brought increased productivity, leading to economic development in the region.

One recent study predicts that if the fertility rate fell by just one child per woman in Nigeria in the next 20 years, the country’s economy would grow by at least $30 billion.

And the benefits are not just economic. The report finds that the costs of ignoring the right to family planning include poverty, exclusion, poor health and gender inequality. Failing to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and young people in Malawi, for example, contributed to high rates of unintended pregnancy and HIV. In the United States, the report showed that teenage motherhood reduces a girl’s chances of obtaining a high school diploma by up to 10 per cent.

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