Family planning is “the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility.” Family planning may involve consideration of the number of children a woman wishes to have, including the choice to have no children and the age at which she wishes to have them. These matters are influenced by external factors such as marital situation, career considerations, financial position, and any disabilities that may affect their ability to have children and raise them. If sexually active, family planning may involve using contraception and other techniques to control the timing of reproduction.
Family planning has been practiced since the 16th century by Djenné in West Africa. Physicians advised women to space their children, having them every three years rather than too many and too quickly. Other aspects of family planning include sex education, prevention, and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and management, and infertility management. As defined by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, family planning encompasses services leading up to conception. Abortion is not typically recommended as a primary method of family planning, and access to contraception reduces the need for abortion.
The International Conference on Family Planning has convened the global development community around a shared vision of universal access to family planning since 2009.
A network of advocates, researchers, scientists, community and government leaders, health practitioners, economists, conveners, civil society members, and young people will be part of the 2022 International Family Planning Conference in Pattaya.
Every other year since 2009, the International Conference on Family Planning has brought together the family planning and SRHR communities to share best practices, celebrate successes, and chart a course toward universal access to Family Planning.
ICFP 2022 will take place from 14 to 17 November 2022, with pre-conference side events and site visits beginning on 12 November 2022.
For the first time, the world’s largest convening of family planning and SRHR experts will be hosted in person in Pattaya City, Thailand, as well as virtually around the world, making the 2022 ICFP our most extensive, the most inclusive, and accessible conference to date!
Since the first ICFP in Kampala, Uganda, in 2009, the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) has served as a strategic inflection point for the global reproductive health community, providing a global stage for countries, organizations, and individuals to make significant commitments and celebrate achievements as the world’s largest scientific conference on family planning and reproductive health.
ICFP has become more than a conference – it has grown into a platform for researchers, advocates, governments, and communities; a movement towards achieving access to family planning for all; and a growing community guided by the spirit of partnership, inclusivity, innovation, and scientific rigor.
As the larger family planning community looks “beyond 2020” to realign our goals and reposition for the future of family planning, ICFP 2022 will be a strategic benchmark as the community prepares to recommit to a goal of universal access by 2030.
Pakistan’s population growth has continued since the 1940s due to reduced mortality and persistent high birth rates. The country’s population grew from nearly 33 Million in 1947 to about 220 Million, an increase of almost six times since independence. Continued rapid growth in population has ranked Pakistan sixth in the world and the third most significant contributor to world population growth. However, with a very young age structure, and a large number of people about to enter their reproductive years, the population has the potential to proliferate shortly, even though fertility is expected to fall substantially. The Population Welfare Programme is a social development activity aimed at reducing the population growth rate, which is necessary for developing countries like Pakistan.
In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, governments reaffirmed the importance of the Programme of Action and its further implementation for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The emphasis on universal access to a full range of safe and reliable family planning methods, which help couples and individuals to realize their right to decide freely and responsibly on the number, spacing, and timing of births, remains as critical today as it did in 1994. The growing use of contraceptive methods in recent decades has resulted in improvements in health-related outcomes such as reduced unintended pregnancies, high-risk pregnancies, maternal mortality, and infant mortality but also in improvements in schooling and economic outcomes, especially for girls and women. Beyond the impacts of contraceptive use at the individual level, there are benefits at the population level. From a macroeconomic perspective, fertility reductions enhance economic growth due to reduced youth dependency and an increased number of women participating in paid labor. However, rapid population growth challenges achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where countries must provide healthcare services, education, and employment opportunities for growing children and young people. Moreover, trends in fertility primarily drive long-term global population trends. It is, therefore, essential to understanding the relationship between contraceptive use and fertility, especially in high-fertility contexts, because of the implications for triggering or speeding up the demographic transition and harnessing a demographic dividend.
Despite the dramatic progress, enormous challenges remain: some 214 million women in developing countries lack safe and effective family planning methods. Most of these women live in the 69 poorest countries. Fulfilling their unmet demand would save lives by averting 67 million unintended pregnancies and reducing the estimated 303,000 annual maternal deaths by one-third.
Better reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, can bolster economies and contribute to sustainable development by empowering women to complete their education, join the paid labor force, be more productive in their jobs, earn higher incomes and increase savings and investments. In addition, for each additional dollar spent on contraceptive services above the current level, the cost of pregnancy-related care is reduced by $2.30.
Investments in family planning help lead to prosperity for all. Family planning, therefore, is critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1, to end poverty. It is also vital to achieving other Goals, such as ending hunger and promoting good health and gender equality.
The Author is a freelance journalist & a Family Planning Award Winner from the Gates Institute of Population and Reproductive Health, Washington, and associated with the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) as a Media & Communication Expert; and he tweets @MansorQaisar