MHTF Quarterly, Issue 7: Family Planning and Maternal Health
The MHTF Quarterly shares resources, research and news in key maternal health areas. This quarter, we’re focusing on the integration of family planning into maternal health services.
From 1990 to 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) decreased by 44 percent. A drop in the total fertility rate worldwide, due primarily to an increase in contraceptive use, resulted in not only 1.2 million fewer maternal deaths from 1990 to 2005, but also a decrease in MMR. However, amplified progress is needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target of reducing the global MMR to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030, and major challenges remain for sexual and reproductive health care access.
Based on a modeling exercise conducted by Ahmed et al., contraceptive use averted approximately 44 percent of maternal deaths. However, an additional 104,000 deaths could be averted annually by providing modern family planning methods to the 225 million women who have an unmet need.
Women with high-risk and high-parity births are at an increased risk of maternal death. Increased use of contraception among these women has not only reduced the number of maternal deaths, but also the proportion of maternal deaths, as reflected in a decrease in MMR. In fact, when a country is transitioning from low to high coverage of family planning, as much as a 450 point change in MMR can be realized.
However, two-thirds of women who desire postponing pregnancy for at least 24 months following childbirth do not use modern contraceptive methods, based on data from 27 low- and middle-income countries.These women are at risk of becoming pregnant too quickly after a previous pregnancy, leading to increased risks of complications and death.
The SDGs tackle the issue of unmet family planning need by aiming to achieve “universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes” by 2030. By placing reproductive health services on national and regional political agendas and fostering a framework that integrates family planning services into the arena of maternal health, a woman will have an increased ability to decide when and if her first or next pregnancy should occur.
Innovative and integrated programs are needed to decrease unmet need for family planning, increase access to contraceptive methods and improve quality of services all while providing respectful and woman-centered care.
To read more, visit the family planning topics page on the MHTF website.
Back to Top