How tragic: A woman dies every minute from childbirth complications

A mother and her newborn. Family planning and reproductive health care save lives and drive economic development, says Melinda Gates and Kathy Calvin. Photo by: Gates Foundation / CC BY-NC-ND

Why should donors and governments invest in family planning and reproductive health care?

Melinda Gates and Kathy Calvin have the answer: They save lives and drive economic development. Not so mind-blowing, right?

Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, cited the skyrocketing gross domestic product in East Asian countries in the 1980s. She said the “economic miracle” was due, in large part, to the countries’ support for family planning.

Meanwhile, Calvin, U.N. Foundation CEO, said providing women with access to voluntary contraception empowers them to make informed choices — be it in childbearing, education, and health and living conditions for their families. She says meeting the need for contraception would save the lives of 250,000 mothers and 1.7 million newborns every year.

While the question has been addressed a number of times, access to family planning and reproductive health care continues to face “stiff opposition” in both developed and developing countries. In the meantime, for every minute legislators spend debating the pros and cons, one woman dies from childbirth complications.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.