Despite a target to reach 120 million more women and girls in the world’s 69 poorest countries with modern contraceptives by 2020, there have been only 46 million new users over the past six years, the latest figures show.
At least, 317 million women in those countries now modern contraceptives, according to the latest FP2020 report, which tracks government commitments to family planning.
This increase has prevented 119 million unintended pregnancies and averted 20 million unsafe abortions, two million newborn deaths and 137 million maternal deaths.
Nevertheless, many countries are falling behind in funding for family planning commodities and services.
“Our original ambitious goal will not be reached by 2020. Looking at projected trends, the hill is simply too steep to climb in the two short years remaining,” the report states.
Up to 214 million women of reproductive age who want to plan or avoid pregnancies cannot get family planning services.
This, according to the Guttmacher Institute, leads to 25 million unsafe abortions every year.
International funding for family planning has increased, from $1.2 billion in 2016 to $1.27 billion in 2017. This remains below the peak of $1.43 billion committed by donors in 2014.
The United Nations Population Fund, which provides at least 14 per cent of all family planning commodities financed by international donors worldwide, faces a funding gap of $350 million to fulfil its mandate over the next three years.
The US government, which contributes up to $60 million each year to the fund, withdrew its support last year.
FP2020 was launched in 2012, spearheaded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations and the United Kingdom and United States governments. It aims to increase the use of modern contraceptives and expand the availability of different contraceptive methods.
While the report says there have been “shifts in method mix,” with implants becoming more common and female sterilisation less so, overall “the most common method used in each country has remained largely unchanged over time.”
For the first time, FP2020 also reports on domestic government spending on family planning in 31 countries, showing that India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia had the highest allocations in 2016.
Last year, Kenya altered its budget to commit $19 million to family planning but it needs $23 million.
The report was released last week at the first International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali, Rwanda.