- Health, Human Rights

Ministry of Health, UNFPA advocate for investing in Family Planning

The Ministry of Health, through the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), conducted a half-day Family Planning National Advocacy Workshop on Sep 15.
To reduce maternal deaths, child deaths and improve nutrition outcomes, the meeting shared progress of the Family Planning programme.
Based on the results of the Human Capital Health Investment Case developed for Laos, options were proposed on how to accelerate progress toward the national targets on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition by 2030 in light of current economic constraints.
“Family planning is a primary solution to improve maternal and child health through preventing unwanted pregnancies, early childbearing and providing choices for couples or individuals in deciding to have children when they are ready physically and economically. Family planning is not about population control, but enables women to space their births to physically and mentally recover after childbirth,” said Deputy Health Minister Dr Phonevanh Keopaseuth.
Vice Ministers from relevant sectors, Provincial Vice governors and development partners who all shared suggestions on moving the family planning agenda forward witnessed at the workshop.
They agreed to increase investments in Family Planning Programme from domestic resources, improve data analysis and use, collaborate with private sector providers, improve supply chain management and capacity building for health providers on service and information. The goal being to meet women and girls’ demand for access to contraception.
The support for this work is through the UNFPA Global Supplies Programme and the United Nations Joint Sustainable Development Fund programme.
A health investment case conducted by UNFPA shows that in the Lao PDR, an additional USD109 million investment in family planning from now until 2030 will help:
Prevent 1,044,888 unintended pregnancies;
Avert 1,077 maternal deaths and 6,866 child deaths;
Reduce stunting in children under five by 5.6 percentage points;
Generate USD661.5 million in economic benefits as women and girls get the chance to study and stay in the workforce – a benefit to cost ratio of 6.0;
And allow families to invest limited resources in the education and health of the fewer desired children that they have.
On the laws and policies which protect the power that women and girls have to make decisions over their own bodies, the Lao PDR scores an impressive 96 out of 100, amongst the highest scores globally.
Steady progress was derailed by COVID 19 and urgent acceleration is required. This acceleration is critical to ensure voluntary access to family planning as part of sexual and reproductive health rights, a basic human right. Women and girls who have bodily autonomy, and can decide if, when and how many children to have. With that choice, women girls can transform their opportunities and their economic status. This is most important for the poorest, the least educated, and all adolescent girls in Laos.
UNFPA Representative, Ms Mariam A. Khan said “Within Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) and Nutrition for every province, Family Planning gives the highest returns, USD6 for every 1 invested. That’s a very powerful economic argument. But beyond the economic argument, we can prevent thousands of maternal and child deaths if we invest in this comprehensive approach. We can protect women’s rights and choices, without which there is no sustainable development”

Source: Lao News Agency