We Have to Face the Facts on International Family Planning

A recent presentation by Joseph Chamie, the former director of United Nations Population Division, outlines the cataclysmic possibilities of population growth in Africa.

One of the key underlying causes is lack of investment in international family programs. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently documented the decline in donor country assistance. It’s worth noting that the US provides nearly half of all such family planning aid and that most family planning funding originates within developing nations.

As fertility rates declined in wealthier nations, family planning has often come to be seen as “yesterday’s news.” There has been no shortage of magical thinking – as if Africa’s challenges would somehow resolve themselves as the world’s attention moves on to other topics.  It hasn’t happened.

The Gates Foundation has stepped up its investments in international family planning in recent years. For the most part, that has only replaced reductions in investments by donor nations. This leaves a growing gap as the population of the poorest places on earth continues to increase.

Like many challenges, it’s a matter of will – in this case, political will, to counter the stiff resistance of a variety of fundamentalists and others who embrace outmoded doctrines and ignore facts.

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