Voluntary family planning is one of the most efficacious and cost-effective means of improving individual health, gender equity, family well-being, and national development. Increasing contraceptive use and reducing unmet need for family planning are central to improving maternal health (UN Millennium Development Goal 5). In less-developed regions of the world, especially Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, human and financial resources are limited, modern contraceptive use is relatively low, unmet need for modern contraception is high, and consequently maternal morbidity and mortality are high. However, the international community is showing renewed commitment to family planning, a number of high impact program practices have been identified, and a number of Sub-Saharan African countries (e.g. Ethiopia, Malawi, and Rwanda) have successfully made family planning much more widely and equitably available. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has joined with other international and donor organizations in calling for increased funding and more effective programming to improve maternal health and family planning in low-resource countries. Continued engagement by FIGO, its member societies, and its individual members will be helpful in addressing the numerous barriers that impede universal access to modern contraception in low-resource countries.
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