Last July, at the London Summit on Family Planning, several; African Heads of State made commitments to improve the funding of Family Planning for poor women in their countries.
The summit, sponsored by the British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, lay emphasis on the ongoing lack of family planning services for millions of poor women in the developing world.
It solicited for global support to increase funding to match the unmet need for family planning.
Leaders made unprecedented commitments financially and politically to strengthen their family planning programmes.
Going forward, the challenge for all stakeholders will be to ensure that financial pledges made by donors and developing country governments materialise and that individual women’s needs and rights remain at the core of the implementation phase..
Speech by H. E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda at Summit, July 11, 2012
I wish to thank the Government of the United Kingdom, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners for organising this summit.
The issue of population in Africa must be put in a proper context and discussed accurately without complacence, exaggeration or panic.
Africa is the origin of man (five million years ago) and is also the cradle of civilization (Egypt). Until 100,000 years ago, all humans lived only in Africa.
When the Diaspora of humans out of Africa started, however, the out of Africa population grew much faster than we the stayees.
About 100,000 years ago, the population in Africa was one million people while that out of Africa was just a few hundreds. However, by 1500 the out of Africa population was 300 million people while the population in Africa was only 47 million people.
By 1900, the human population of Africa was about 129 million people while that of out of Africa was about 2,000 million. This was due to tropical diseases that kept the population in Africa low.
Africa is a huge continent of 11 million square miles of land. You can fit the US, China, India, Brazil and the whole of Western Europe in Africa and you remain with some space to spare.
Yet, even today, the population of the whole of Africa is only one billion people, less than the population of India which, in land area, is a mere 1/11 of the area of Africa.
Some of the African countries such as DRC, CAR, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Zambia, Angola and many others seem to suffer from under population rather than over population. DRC, for instance, is about the same land area as India but with a population of only 15 million by the time of Independence in 1960.
It is now about 70 million people. Therefore, the problem is not population per se. The problems are two: under-development and lack of socio-economic transformation on the one hand and child spacing for the good health of the babies to be born and for the health of the mother.
Africa, or in this particular case Uganda, needs to metamorphose from a pre-capitalist, quasi-feudal society to a middle class, skilled working class society. That social metamorphosis will, inevitably, bring down the population growth rate (3.4% in Uganda).
Middle class societies and industrial working class societies do not have time or space (in urban areas) to generate children.
The economy of Uganda has been growing at the rate of 6.5% per annum for the last 25 years in spite of inadequate supply of electricity and high transport costs.
We now, finally, have a small surplus of electricity and we shall never allow ourselves to lag behind again in electricity supply.
We are also funding all the major roads (for bituminization) as well as the railway. This will lower the transport costs. I expect our rate of economic growth to double because of the lower costs of doing business in the economy and also because of a more educated population on account of universal primary education (UPE) introduced in 1997 and universal secondary education (USE) introduced in 2007.
Higher rates of economic growth will enable Uganda to become a middle income country as soon as possible. In the meantime, we need to sensitise the peasants about child spacing.
This summit offers us the opportunity to reflect on our efforts to improve adolescents’ and women’s needs in order to empower them, improve their health and welfare. Young people and vulnerable groups should be better able to make informed choices for healthy sexual and reproductive health lifestyles.
Uganda is making steady progress on the Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We have reduced poverty and promoted universal primary and secondary education for both girls and boys thereby increasing literacy rate.
Consequently, life expectancy in Uganda has increased to 52 years. We have promoted women involvement in all spheres of our national development.
The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (2011), shows that infant mortality has reduced very considerably. However,
our progress on MDG 5, improving maternal health, is still not on target.
In developing countries, women continue to die during pregnancy and childbirth. Yet the causes are well known and largely preventable. The use of relatively cheap and available technologies will lead to significant improvement in the living conditions of women.
With a glaring over 200 million women lacking access to family planning facilities worldwide, concerted efforts must be made to ensure their access, equitable distribution and affordability.
Natural methods should also not be forgotten taking advantage of the fact that days for ovulation are limited in the monthly cycle of a woman.
Nobody should administer family control drugs to rural illiterate women without explaining fully the implications of such an act. Family planning should be out of informed choice not out of manipulation.
In Uganda, we have prioritized the reproductive health concerns of women and programmes have been scaled up to this effect, including antenatal care, youth-friendly services, emergency obstetric care as well as family planning particularly encouraging birth spacing.
The Government has increased funding for medicines through the National Medical Stores. I want to salute those partners who have been working with us on these health issues.
The Government of Uganda is committed to ensuring an enabling policy environment to allow women to exercise their family planning choices and to strengthen service delivery.
Government will increase the government allocation for Family Planning supplies from $3.3m per year currently to $5m per year for the next 5 years and will mobilise an additional $5m from external
This will be supported by development of a reproductive health sub-account to track Reproductive Health resource flows.
To prevent stock-out of Family Planning supplies, government will strengthen the National Medical Stores to improve distribution of reproductive health supplies/commodities to public and private health delivery units.
Our plans are set out in a Road Map that will ensure we reach our goal of universal access to family planning, consequently propelling Uganda towards the achievement of her National Development Plan goals of reducing maternal and child mortality and attaining Middle Income Country status.
As leaders, we must rededicate ourselves to emancipating adolescents and women by addressing reproductive health needs in the context of socio-economic development.
We must devote ourselves to increasing awareness to especially the people of the developing countries. We must raise the threshold of their willing participation in the very important issue of Reproductive Health.
All stakeholders must be brought on board.Women do not only give life, they are the backbone of the economies in the developing world. I thank you.
President Pau l Kagame
President Kagame presented Rwanda’s commitments to ensure universal access to family planning methods, including availing family planning services in each of the country’s 14,841 administrative villages to be delivered by 45,000 community health workers; expanding existing information dissemination programmes about family planning to the general public; and increasing awareness of the various choices available. He noted that scaling up family planning is a collective responsibility.
Khumbo Kachali, vice president-Malawi
The Malawi government declared its commitment to raise Malawi’s Contraceptive Prevalence Rate) to 60% by 2020 with a targeted increase in young people aged 15 to 24 years.
To achieve this objective, they pledged to approve a National Population Policy before the end of this year, raise the legal age of marriage and strengthen institutional arrangements to deliver effective policy leadership for population and family planning. The country also is planning to raise its minimum age of marriage to 18.
Nigeria Health minister, Muhammad Ali Pate
His country targeted a Contraceptive Prevalence Rate of 36% by 2018 to avert 31,000 maternal deaths. He also said the country would triple its spend on the reproductive health by allocating $8.5 million to family planning over the next four years and pledged to raise contraception usage by 38% over the next four years.
Senegal promised to more than double the number of women using contraception to 27 per cent by 2015. The government will also increase its spending on procurement of reproductive health supplies by 100%, and double the budget for its family planning programme, investing in awareness campaigns.
The country’s minister of health, Awa Marie Col-Seck, claimed the support of the religious leaders. Tanzania’s president Jakaya Kikwete also pledged to double the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate to 60% by 2015.
Ethiopia announced a five point action plan to meet its funding gap for family planning services. Recognising that early childbearing is a major contributor to maternal mortality, emphasis is on adolescent girls who have the highest unmet need for family planning according to country’s health minister, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The Zambian government committed to expand its budget for family planning by 100% as well as reaching out to religious leaders opposing contraception initiatives, said Joseph Katema, Zambia’s minister of community development and mother and child health.