Blog Posts by Fabio Castaño

{Photo: MSH staff/Tanzania}Photo: MSH staff/Tanzania

Invest in teenage girls. Change the world.

Sylvia, age 16, knew little about HIV & AIDS or reproductive health when she started primary school. Now, she says: “I am not scared by the pressure from boys and other girls to engage in early sex, I know my rights and am determined to fulfill my vision of completing my education.” Sylvia is one of 485 girls in 6 eastern Ugandan schools who received integrated sexual and reproductive health and HIV information.

Today, July 11, we commemorate World Population Day 2016 and the midpoint toward reaching the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) goal to ensure the right of 120 million additional women and girls to access contraception. More than half of the 7 billion people on earth are under the age of 30. Most of the FP2020 focus countries are in the very regions of the world where we find (a) the highest population of youth and (b) more marginalized and disenfranchised young people. In many of the world's poorest countries, people aged 15 to 29 will continue to comprise about half of the population for the next four decades.

 {Photo credit: Matt Martin/MSH}About 20 of the nearly 30 MSH staff attending the 4th annual ICFP gather for the opening ceremony.Photo credit: Matt Martin/MSH

Three weeks ago, nearly 3,500 family planning researchers, program managers, and policymakers came together in Nusa Dua, Indonesia to discuss the latest research findings and best practices on family planning at the 4th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). It was the largest gathering of family planning enthusiasts to date.

Nearly 30 MSH staff from 8 countries attended ICFP, showcasing our health systems expertise and experiences in family planning.

 {Photo: Matt Martin/MSH}(from left) Jonathan D. Quick, President & CEO, MSH, moderates the UHC and family planning (FP) access and accountability conversation with panelists: Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of Health, Uganda; Tira Aswitama, National Program Associate for RH and FP, UNFPA Indonesia; Kayode Afolabi, Director Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria; Beth Schlachter, Executive Director, FP2020; John Skibiak, Director, RHSC; Melissa Wanda, Advocacy Officer, MSH Kenya.Photo: Matt Martin/MSH

Post updated February 19, 2016.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services figure prominently in the Sustainable Development Goals. So it is not surprising that The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) maintained important focus on these topics, including through the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) auxiliary event, “Universal Access to Family Planning and Reproductive Health: Who’s Accountable in the Post-2015 Era?” on January 27. Co-sponsored by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), the event featured an illustrious group of panelists giving their perspectives on UHC, while exploring the intersection of health financing policy and accountability as countries move into universal access for family planning.

Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, President and CEO of MSH, moderated the conversation and perhaps stated it best: “Now, more than ever, it is clear that getting family planning into national policies is critical.” 

{Photo Credit: Sara Holtz/MSH}Photo Credit: Sara Holtz/MSH

As the world begins working toward the newly developed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring access to reproductive health supplies must be considered.

More than 100 countries are in the process of adopting or advancing universal health coverage (UHC) mechanisms to achieve the targets set for Goal 3, which calls for “good health and well-being.”

Despite the momentum, 400 million people lack access to at least one of seven life-saving health services. And in 2012, an estimated 222 million women lacked access to effective family planning. FP2020’s goal of enabling 120 million women and girls to use modern contraception requires countries to include sexual and reproductive health services and supplies when discussing health benefits packages under national insurance laws, policies, and other related UHC efforts. Moreover, marginalized populations should be prioritized for free or subsidized care.

{Photo credit: Olumade Badejo/MSH}Photo credit: Olumade Badejo/MSH

Update, 1/11/16: Join MSH at the International Family Planning Conference, January 25-28, 2016, in Indonesia. Get ICFP2016 details here.

Original post continues:

This blog post is a web-formatted version of the Global Health Impact newsletter: Family Planning: The Win-Win-Win for Health (November 2015). (View or share the email version here.) We welcome your feedback and questions in the comments. On social media, use hashtag and tag .  Subscribe

 {Photo credit: Rui Pires}This Accredited Drug Shop (ADS) in Kibaale district, Uganda, is one of nearly 1,500 small private vendors supported by MSH that provide rural access to family planning commodities, counseling, and referrals.Photo credit: Rui Pires

This week, conference organizers announced that the anticipated 2015 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Nusa Dua, Indonesia would be postponed due to a volcanic ash cloud limiting air travel and presenting health concerns. We stand in solidarity with all those in the region. Although the conference is postponed, the family planning conversation must go on.

Earlier this fall, the 193 member states at the 70th United Nations General Assembly ratified and launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Now, stakeholders are determining together how to achieve the 17 goals and 169 targets.  Management Sciences for Health (MSH) works primarily toward Goal 3: to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages and related targets by 2030.

{Photo credit: MSH staff}Photo credit: MSH staff

The teenage years. Changes seem to happen overnight. Puberty. Your first crush. Fighting with a parent. Discovering your identity, your purpose, and your role in the community. A confusing and challenging, yet rewarding, coming of age... an emerging adult.

Half the world’s population is under 30 years old. About 1.8 billion people, the largest generation of youth in history, are between the ages of 10 and 24. In most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, people ages 15 to 29 will continue to comprise about half of the population for the next four decades. How does this unprecedented proportion of young people impact public health, and a community and country’s sustainable development?

Sustainable health outcomes will depend on how we engage and empower our youth.

{Photo: Mark Tuschman, Kenya}Photo: Mark Tuschman, Kenya

This post originally appeared as part of the Woman-Centered Universal Health Coverage Series, hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and USAID|TRAction, which discusses the importance of utilizing a woman-centered agenda to operationalize universal health coverage. To contribute a post to MHTF's series, please contact Katie Millar.

Who is accountable for the young woman dying during childbirth in a hospital in Lusaka, Zambia? For the woman in a health center in Bugiri in Uganda? For the girl child in a rural home in Uttar Pradesh, India? In a shanty town in Tegucigalpa, Honduras? Who is accountable for the women and adolescent girls in a thousand places everywhere?

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

Family planning is not abortion.

If this were understood, we could stop the discussion here. Decades of debate and wrangling over women’s access to contraceptives could end. But the myth that family planning equals abortion fuels policies and practices that block women’s access to health services.

One such policy is The Global Gag Rule (or Mexico City Policy). Coined by Population Action International as "The Policy That Never Dies", The Global Gag Rule bans organizations that receive US public or government funding from using non-US funds to provide (or even refer to) abortion services—even if those services are legal in those countries. When the Global Gag Rule was enforced, some of our partners struggled to provide life-saving services to women in need. These organizations could no longer receive US funding for providing any health services, because they were also providing abortion services that were legal in the country. 

In reality, family planning helps reduce abortion. And many women won't need to abort, if they have the family planning information and services they need.

{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman, Kenya.}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman, Kenya.

Today, September 26, is World Contraception Day. The Family Planning 2020 (FP 2020) Initiative says the vision for the day "is a world where every pregnancy is wanted. Its mission is to improve the awareness of contraception to enable young people to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health." We share part two of our interview with Dr. Fabio Castaño, MSH’s global technical lead of family planning (FP) and reproductive health, in celebration of World Contraception Day. Join the conversation on social media with hashtag .

Read Choice: Part One

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