International Conference on Family Planning 2016: Recap of the Opening Plenary

Jason Wright

Health Programs Group Senior Director, Project Implementation (and former LMG Project Director)

The fourth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) on January 25-28, 2016, in Nusa Dua, Indonesia calls for "Global Commitments, Local Actions.” The conference is co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN).Live from Nusa Dua

On Monday afternoon, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo officially opened the 4th International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. President Widodo presented Global Humanitarian Awards for Women’s and Children’s Health to:

New CIFF Executive Director, Health Alvaro Bermejo accepted the award on behalf of Sir Christopher. I had the pleasure of working for Alvaro when he was Executive Director and I was U.S. Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (Management Sciences for Health, the lead partner of the LMG Project, collaborates with the AIDS Alliance under the USAID Grant Management Solutions [GMS] and Leadership, Management, and Governance [LMG] Projects). Alvaro stated that children should be able to not only survive but thrive and women should be able to decide whether and when to have children. He described Adolescents 360, a $30 million initiative co-funded by CIFF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase the use of modern, voluntary contraceptives by girls in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Adolescents 360 partners include Population Services International (PSI) and IDEO.org.

Melinda French Gates (by video) and Gates Foundation Global Development Program President Christopher Elias reiterated the Gates Foundation announcement in November 2015 that the foundation will invest an additional $120 million (a 25% increase) in family planning programs over the next three years. Ms. Gates stated:Melinda Gates: Fulfilling Our Family Planning Promise to 120 Million Women

Three years ago, the global community set an ambitious goal.  More than that, we made a promise. A promise to 120 million women and girls that by 2020 they would have access to family planning services and contraceptives if they wanted it.  Since we made that promise, millions of unintended pregnancies have been avoided and thousands of lives saved.  But the hard truth is, that to keep it, we must do more, and we must act now.  We have it in our power to give every woman, every girl, everywhere, the opportunity of a healthy, prosperous life – for herself, her family, and her community.

Dr. Elias stated, “We’re falling behind. We need to act smarter. We need to act together. And, above all, we need to act now.”

Ms. Gates and Dr. Elias indicated that the additional funding will focus on three priority areas:

  1. Improving the quality of services and the range of contraceptive options that women receive
  2. Reaching the most marginalized with contraceptives and services, particularly the urban poor
  3. Supporting the work of local advocates who are making the case for budgets, policies, and programs that ensure more women and girls can access contraceptives

U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotihemin made two speeches, one for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the other for himself. Mr. Ban described family planning as a human right, a key to unlocking untold opportunities, and one of the best investments. Dr. Osotihemin described family planning as a “pathway out of poverty.” He stated, “We have made some progress, but it is not enough.” Dr. Osotihemin noted that sustainability would come not from the Gates Foundation or donors but from countries themselves. He stated, “Countries must step up and look after their own.” He quoted a Nepalese colleague, “We cannot prevent earthquakes; we can prevent pregnancies.”

Youth speaker Margaret Bolaji, Associate Researcher, Population and Reproductive Health Initiative in Northern Nigeria, concluded the opening ceremony. Ms. Bolaji told inspiring stories of women affected by fistula and early marriage among other issues. She discussed the growth of the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP). The LMG Project has been proud to provide technical support to IYAFP. On Tuesday morning, IYAFP Co-Founder and Vice Chair for Administration Jillian Gedeon made an outstanding panel presentation at an LMG Project auxiliary event on Leadership and Management Best Practices for Family Planning.

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