By Andrew Holt

Sexual and reproductive healthcare organisation, Marie Stopes International has released its annual Global Impact Report. Delivering services in over 40 countries around the world, 13.6 million people were using contraception provided by the organisation last year, which prevented 5.3 million unplanned pregnancies, 2.1 million unsafe abortions, and saved 11,300 women’s lives.

Worldwide, there are still 222 million women who want contraception but have no access to it.

This inequality causes 63 million unplanned pregnancies, 19 million unsafe abortions and 82,000 maternal deaths every year.

Analysing the organisation’s impact in opening access to contraception for these women, the report identifies four groups which must be prioritised:

Under 25s – make up 50% of the world's population with nine out of ten living in the developing world. Contending with financial and social barriers, access to contraception for young people can be very challenging.

The consequences can be devastating: complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the number one killer of 15

19 year olds girls. Under 25s accounted for 30% of the people Marie Stopes International helped in 2012.

People living in poverty - 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 a day.

Women with low incomes are consistently less likely to be using family planning than those who are more affluent due to low levels of knowledge about contraception, problems of access and affordability.

26% of Marie Stopes International’s family planning users were living below the poverty line in 2012.

Women not currently using contraception – 222 million women want contraception but have no access to it.

When high quality services are expanded and contraception made available, the uptake is extraordinary.

Marie Stopes International estimates that 20% of all contraceptive users in sub-Saharan Africa were new to family planning last year4 and 34% of its family planning services were delivered to people who were not already using contraception.

Those who cannot access the methods that suit their needs - what suits one woman’s needs and body may be totally different to another.

Choice is vital but in many countries trends in family planning use are often skewed towards one method.

Longer acting methods have lower failure rates and are more reliable than short term methods like condoms and pills.

Last year, 25% of the people who came to Marie Stopes International switched their contraception.

The report also urges that we remember the needs of the 260 million women in the developing world who are already using contraception.

Michael Holscher, interim CEO of Marie Stopes International, said: “Together with our partners, we are committed to ensuring that - no matter where they live, what their age or means may be - women and girls across the world are able to take control of their futures.

“As we strive to reach more people, we must not lose sight of the millions of women and girls who are already relying on us to realise their contraceptive choices. Sustaining their services is just as important as opening up access for more women.”

A year ago, the world came together at the London Summit on Family Planning and promised to bring contraceptive choices to 120 million more women and girls in the developing world. If Family Planning (FP) 2020 successfully manages to deliver on the promises, 380 million women will be using modern contraception in developing countries by 2020.

Valerie DeFillipo, director FP2020, added: “FP2020 is premised on the power of partnership, innovation and accountability to ensure that all women can voluntarily access lifesaving contraceptives where and when they want it.

"FP2020’s success depends on valued partners like Marie Stopes International who work together with governments, donors and the private sector to increase access to family planning information, services and supplies for those who are hardest to reach, without coercion or discrimination.”

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