India urged to increase budget for family planning

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) The Population Foundation of India (PFI) on Saturday urged the government to increase its budget for family planning if it wanted to meet its ‘FP2020’ pledge of covering 48 million new users.

‘FP2020’ is an outcome of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning where more than 20 governments made commitments to address the barriers in access to contraceptives.

According to PFI, India would need to spend about Rs 15,800 crore, if not more, during 2013-2020 to meet its commitment of providing additional family planning services through public-funded providers.

“Any delay in doing so or any gap that may result cost the country dear in terms of high maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, and poor child health resulting from poorly spaced pregnancies,” a PFI statement said.

“In line with a rights-based perspective and an empowerment approach, women need to be able to have the right to determine the number of children they wish to have.”

The states that need a greater focus and commitment are Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand as well as Assam and Himachal Pradesh.

“The study notes that family planning, which is almost fully funded by the central government, has received very little attention from it as compared with other health programmes,” the statement said.

Family Welfare, which includes the budget for family planning, constituted only four per cent of the 2014-15 health and family welfare budget, it said,

That budget included central procurement of contraceptives, the funding of social marketing projects, national level IEC (information, education and communication) and premium for Family Planning Insurance (for compensation against contraceptive failures).

The PFI said that though the allocation for family planning increased by 47 per cent under the National Health Mission, it still fell short of the required amount. Under the family welfare budget, the allocation saw a sharp decline of 54 per cent during the same period.

“As contraceptives and IEC activities are covered by this budget, the decline is extremely worrying,” said the statement.

At FP2020, India had committed to reaching 48 million new users in addition to sustaining the existing 100 million users of family planning. The focus was to shift to spacing instead of limiting methods to meet the needs of India’s young population reaching its reproductive years.

–IANS

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