Burma will address the issue of women’s health, family planning and contraceptives, following a funding initiative by Britain and other donors, which was announced on Wednesday in Naypyitaw.
“The UK is committed to improving maternal and child health globally and in Myanmar,” said Paul Whittingham, the DFID director in Burma “The British prime minister is today hosting the London Summit on Family Planning, where partners from across the world will come together to support the right of women and girls to decide, freely and for themselves, whether, when and how many children they have.”
The group’s worldwide goal is two fold: sustain family planning information and services for 260 million women; and meet the contraceptive needs of an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.
Whittingham said his government intends to contribute £80 million over the next four years to the multi-donor Three MDG Fund for health.
Family planning, or as its termed in Burma by the Ministry of Health, “birth-spacing,” is about saving lives, and protecting mothers and children from death, ill health, disability and underdevelopment, said a group statement.
As a key component of reproductive health, access to birth-spacing information, commodities and services is a fundamental right for every woman and community if they are to develop to their full potentials, said the group.
“Marie Stopes International in Myanmar, with the leadership of the Department of Health, and together with local and international NGOs, serves to improve access to those needs for the communities in Myanmar—particularly the underserved.” said Dr. Sid Naing, the director of Marie Stopes International in Burma.
Over the past 30 years, UNFPA has supported reproductive health programmes in Burma in partnership with the Ministry of Health and NGOs, and has been the main supplier of contraceptives to the country, said the group.
Despite that support, Abdel-Ahad, the UNFPA representative for Burma, said, “Nearly one-fourth of Myanmar married women of reproductive age would like to practice contraception but do not have the means to do so.”
Efforts by the government and development partners to ensure the availability of modern contraceptives are critical to preventing unsafe abortions, he said, which is the leading cause of maternal death and disability in the country.