Family Planning Has Health, Environmental, Economic Benefits, Say Former USAID Population Directors
New Report Argues for Doubling Spending on International Family Planning
APRIL 2009—"We know how to do family planning, we know what it costs, and we know that it works," said Joseph Speidel of the University of California, San Francisco, at the launch event for Making the Case for U.S. International Family Planning Assistance on March 17. The key missing element, he said, is political will.
Speidel was joined by fellow co-authors Duff Gillespie of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Steven Sinding of the Guttmacher Institute. All three speakers gave short interviews to ECSP, now available on a single YouTube playlist.
"One dollar invested in family planning has a return on the investment of four dollars," Gillespie told ECSP. "If you have a program that allows couples to avert having unwanted pregnancies, it also means there are less children to immunize - there are less schools that have to be built - there are less teachers that have to be trained."
"If countries cash in on this window of opportunity" opened by falling birth rates,"it makes a big difference in their chance for development," said Sinding in his interview. "While it is not a sufficient condition for economic growth, decreasing fertility is certainly a necessary condition for doing so."
At the launch, Ruth Levine of the Center for Global Development urged the authors to avoid "preaching to the choir," and to reach out beyond the family-planning community for support for their proposal by including migration, urbanization, and other demographic issues.
ECSP's Gib Clarke told RH Reality Check that "'Making the Case' should really be titled 'Making the Cases,' as the authors present multiple arguments for increasing family-planning funding."
Making the Case argues that Congress should more than double spending on international family planning in the coming years for health, economic, and environmental reasons.