With emergency funding for family planning, a ray of hope in the midst of the crisis

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High school student, Christabel Mwewa has always been ambitious and sociable. She loved to learn, especially history, and had an affinity for making friends. When, at 16, she found out she was pregnant, everything changed. Suddenly, the studious teenager felt stigmatized. It was as if no one saw a future for her.

“After finding out I was pregnant, people in my community thought I had just dropped out of school and started spreading rumors that because I have a child now, I will not be going back to school. school, ”she said.

Her situation is all too common in Zambia, which has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world. Pregnant adolescents often drop out of school and may be subjected to harmful practices such as child marriage as their future prospects diminish.

But Christabel was lucky – with UNFPA support that she was able to return to school after having her baby. Although excited to join her fellow students, she was also worried and uncomfortable with how she would be viewed by her teachers and peers.

“I thought people would look down on me for having a baby,” Christabel said.

But she persevered. Now 18, Christabel is still in school and dreams of practicing law to help others and support her child’s education.

And she no longer worries about another unwanted pregnancy complicating these plans. With the support of the UNFPA Supplies Partnership, the flagship family planning program of UNFPA, Christabel was able to access a long-acting contraceptive method to ensure that another unplanned pregnancy did not preclude her goals.

An unprecedented shortfall

The UNFPA Supplies Partnership is the only United Nations program dedicated to family planning, and the world’s largest provider of donated contraceptives. But these efforts are currently under threat. COVID-19 led to a reduction in budgetary space for reproductive health. More than a third of countries are experiencing pandemic-related disruption in family planning, reproductive health, nutrition and pregnancy care.

According to the estimates of UNFPA and partners, some 12 million women and adolescents lost access to family planning services in 2020, resulting in 1.4 million unintended pregnancies. Loss of access to contraceptive products and services and supply chain disruptions continue into 2021 as countries struggle to contain new epidemics.

Amidst these challenges, the UNFPA Supplies Partnership faces an unprecedented funding shortfall of $ 150 million for 2021-2022.

Emergency funding

There is a lot at stake. To ensure that women and girls can continue to get the contraceptives and other reproductive health drugs they need right now, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Trust Fund Foundation for Children and another private donor have announced up to $ 50 million in emergency bridge funding. to the UNFPA Supply partnership.

This funding is a one-time investment to alleviate the immediate budget deficit for 2022, but long-term support is still needed.

If fully funded for the next four years (2022-2025), the UNFPA The supplies program can also strengthen health systems to reduce unmet need for family planning, which would help prevent an estimated 1.1 million maternal and child deaths, 53 million unintended pregnancies and 1.7 million. unsafe abortions, according to estimates.

Fully funded funding UNFPA The supplies partnership means that Christabel – and many in similar circumstances – will never have to wonder if her method of choice will be available when she needs it.

“I’m happy to have control over when I can have children because I can finish my education and find a job. And whatever the needs of my child, I will be able to provide for them, ”she said. UNFPA.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

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