July 12, 2017

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Myanmar observes World Population Day as it struggles with access to family planning

Vice President U Myint Swe delivers the opening speech at World Population Day ceremony. Photo: MNA

Myanmar celebrated World Population Day in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday with the theme “Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations”, as Vice President U Myint Swe highlighted the gains made but stressing the need to improve access to contraceptives for the country’s women.
U Myint Swe said Myanmar could fulfill its pledge to the Global Planning 2020, referring to Myanmar’s increase in percentage of those using contraceptives.
“It is found that the number of married women in Myanmar who practice modern family planning methods has reached 51 per cent in 2015, an increase of 38 per cent since 2007”, U Myint Swe said.
Today, over half of married women (52 per cent) in Myanmar practice family planning. But one in six women (16 per cent) have an unmet need for contraceptives. This means that although they would like to, they cannot access modern methods of contraception. This leads to unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal and infant death, and it limits women in their work and career choices.
As the UNFPA points out, thanks to voluntary family planning, millions of women in Myanmar are empowered to make a choice in the number of children they want, and to start their families later in life. This gives them an opportunity to complete their schooling, earn a better living, and escape the trap of poverty. Investments in family planning create a reinforcing cycle of empowerment, which supports healthy, educated and economically productive women and families, propelling development forward.
The theme for World Population Day, 11 July 2017, is “Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations”. The day coincides with the London Family Planning Summit, which will be attended by Dr Myint Htwe, Union Minister for Health and Sports. The Government of Myanmar and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, are organizing a summit event via satellite in Nay Pyi Taw under the umbrella of World Population Day.
The London Summit brings together the stakeholders of the FP2020 initiative, which aims to expand access to voluntary family planning to 120 million more women globally by 2020. In Myanmar, the government’s commitment to FP2020 is to reach a modern contraceptive prevalence rate (MCPR) of 60 per cent, and to reduce unmet need for family planning to below 10 per cent by 2020.
From 2014 to 2016, UNFPA provided family planning, and lifesaving maternal and reproductive health commodities worth US$9.6 million, and invested US$1.4 million into a new logistics system to track where supplies are being used and how they are being used. This contributed significantly to the national achievement where, in 2016 alone, access to modern contraceptives and the availability of lifesaving medicines for mothers helped avert 1,340,000 unintended pregnancies, 466,000 unsafe abortions, and 1,000 maternal deaths.
The right to exercise voluntary family planning is an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals, including a mission to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health services.

GNLM and Mizzima

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