Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Raise the bar: Family Planning Summit


Ann Wambui, member of the Ray Drop In Centre Post-Test Club, and her son, Nairobi, Kenya (c) Nell Freeman for the Alliance

The London Summit on Family Planning (11 July) aims to galvanise the international community to commit to increasing access to family planning for an additional 120 million women and girls by 2020.

Hosted by the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the event will ask UN agencies, national governments, donors, civil society, the private sector, and the research and development community, to make this goal a reality.

Family planning has seen a decrease in funding and support in recent years, therefore the Summit’s focus on increasing access to family planning for the most poor and marginalised women and girls is very welcome.

Linking Family Planning and HIV services

The event provides an important opportunity to reinforce the importance of positioning family planning within broader sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and HIV.

“Every person has a right to health. In order to keep women healthy in the most difficult environments we must remember that women need access to comprehensive SRHR programmes and services which include family planning and HIV,” says Divya Bajpai, the Alliance’s senior adviser on sexual and reproductive health. “Family planning should form part of an integrated approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights which, along with preventing unintended pregnancy, should also protect women, girls, their families and communities from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).”

Such an approach needs to address the rights and needs of everyone, including vulnerable key populations such as sex workers, women who use drugs and women living with HIV.

Community mobilisation is critical

For vulnerable populations to be reached community mobilisation is critical. For example, community champions and peer educators were a key part of a 12-month Alliance programme which set out to reduce maternal deaths in Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia. The project, which also aimed to improve the health of HIV-positive mothers and their children, reached over 100,000 people, resulting in better-informed communities and an increase in safer deliveries.

By reaching hard to reach populations a community mobilisation approach helps strengthen the demand and uptake of quality services; and address structural barriers to accessing family planning, such as stigma and discrimination in health facilities and laws which criminalise sex workers and HIV transmission.

The Alliance is committed to supporting this approach by:

  • Increasing awareness about the importance of family planning among women, girls, families and communities most affected by HIV
  • Increasing access to family planning
  • Promoting linkages between family planning and other SRHR issues, including HIV

RAISE the bar for women’s health

The Alliance is engaged in the summit through collaboration with the UK Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Network and the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development and has developed joint policy messages and a side event on the integration of family planning, HIV and rights. These call on attendees to ‘RAISE the bar for women’s health’.

‘RAISE’ represents five starting blocks to improving women’s health: rights, access, investment, security and equity.

You can read more about the policy messages here.

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