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Cost Effective Family Planning

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The argument of whether family planning (FP) should be a right or privilege has been debated for ages. Policy makers have gone back and forth with possible government funding to create affordable contraceptives as well as eliminate barriers to FP. In developing countries, FP is not as prioritized economically and socially compared to developed countries. Developing countries need FP more than developed countries because of the higher rate of unmet need of contraceptives, lack of knowledge on FP, higher rate of unintended pregnancies, and more barriers to FP. The Guttmacher Policy Review reported on how unintended pregnancies in developing countries lead to a lower literacy rate, lower rate of women in higher corporate positions, and lower rate of women in higher education (Cohen 10). However, funding for FP is very costly. In 2016, the United States spent a total of $608 million on FP for itself and developing countries (“The US Government”). As opposed to developed countries, the cost of family planning is a significant factor for determining whether to continue the services in developing countries. Other barriers such as accessibility to contraceptives and lack of education are not as significant because developing countries will prioritize programs that are not as costly as family planning, which eliminates many vital FP services in those countries. Policy makers in developing countries have had a historical trend of not supporting family planning due to the financial burden it has had on a country. Through researching the developing countries of Nepal and the Philippines, it is conclusive that reducing the costs of family planning through contraceptives and facilities can motivate and encourage policymakers to support FP funding. Although barriers like accessibility and lack of education are important to consider, it is central to understand that because of their prominence in developing countries, the cost of FP is the most relevant factor.

Family planning is the practice of controlling the number of children in a family as well as the spacing between each child through the means of contraceptives. Many people in developing countries fail to realize how important FP is. Through lack of FP services and contraceptives, unintended pregnancy rates rise. As mentioned earlier, unintended pregnancies rates are correlated with lower literacy and higher education rates as well as lower rates of women in higher positions in the workforce. FP is even more important in developing countries because one in four women in a developing country can read (“Literacy”). By having their education come to a halt due to caring for a child, it is more difficult for women to further their education on their own. By highlighting the importance of FP in developing countries, girls and young women can have the opportunity to further their education. As time and history has shown, by having more educated people in a country, the country becomes more advanced academically, technologically, and economically. FP not only benefits the women in a developing country but for the country itself.

For context, family planning services such as providing contraceptives have not had much support from policy makers and government officials. Susan A. Cohen from the Guttmacher Policy Review analyzed historical FP spending, which makes her hypothesize that policymakers oppose FP due to the high costs of temporary contraceptives, which are also the most common form of contraceptive (Cohen 12). However, studies from the Guttmacher UNFPA report, Adding It Up: The Costs and Benefits of Investing in Family Planning and Maternal and Newborn Health, have shown that spending an estimated three billion USD on FP is cheaper than spending an estimated 160 billion USD to support women and children after birth until adulthood (Cohen 13). This statistic is important for developing countries to understand because by informing officials that by spending money on FP services, it can save money in the long run. Yet, by further reducing the costs of FP services and/or amplifying and maximizing the governmental funding for FP services, more policymakers and government officials will be more supportive of providing funding and moral support.

One will find that cost not only affects the governmental funding and policymaker support, but it also affects the unmet need within developing countries. Developing countries have significantly higher rates of poverty and fertility. Due to the levels of poverty, most women seeking family planning services cannot afford them, which leads to unintended pregnancies. Also, the unmet need includes the selection and availability of contraception in their country. By having limited availability of contraceptives and/or not having a contraceptive that fits one’s needs, it reduces the likelihood of people using contraceptives, which then leads to unintended pregnancies. By being able to eliminate one of the significant barriers to family planning, the unmet need and fertility rates within developing countries can drastically be reduced. This is important because girls and young women can further their education by eliminating unintended pregnancies.

As one of the poorest countries in the world, Nepal does not have much funding to spare in terms of FP. The cheapest government aided form of contraceptives that Nepal offers is sterilizations. However, many Nepalese avoid sterilizations because of the permanent nature of them. Alternatively, the Nepalese prefer temporary contraceptives such as hormonal pills and condoms, yet the costly nature of temporary contraceptives has veered people from using them. The average daily wage for someone living in Nepal is about 300 rupees which roughly translates to $3.45 USD. The price of temporary contraceptives for a month’s supply averages from $70-$85 USD (Burnum 10). As stated by Howard Burnum, a FP researcher with The World Bank, one reason for the costly nature of temporary contraceptives is where they are distributed (Burnum 10). Nepal is a mountainous country, housing the tallest mountain in the world,



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