The reinstatement of the “Global Gag Rule” in U.S. and the resulting gap in funding for global NGOs proving maternal healthcare was a huge blow to all of those working to achieve full reproductive and maternal rights for women.
The shortfall of funding is not insignificant, and is estimated to be around $600m. Earlier this month, the “She Decides” conference in Brussels saw a gathering of over 50 countries, organisations, and foundations, who collectively vowed to give financial and political support.
Over €181 million ($190m) has now been pledged to fund NGOs whose work will suffer as a result of the rulling and the She Decides movement is gaining momentum.
Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization and Vice-Chair of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, attended the conference, and has written a powerful post on the WHO website, saying this movement has come at a “critical juncture” for women’s health.
According to Dr Bustreo, the gathering comes at a time when the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls are facing a “stark challenge”; “we risk losing important hard-won recent advances,” she
Dr Bustreo emphasised how reduced funding not only has an impact on the individual woman, but also their families and communities. She also made the economic argument for investment in contraception, explaining that every US$1 invested in modern contraception and good quality care for pregnant women and newborns returns an estimated US$120.
The evidence clearly illustrates that sound family planning for women is more than essential; “the likelihood of a child reaching the age of five increases by more than one third when its mother is a/ble to space her pregnancies by three or more years.”
Dr Bustreo concludes by saying that it is important to move forwards, not backwards, when it comes to women’s health.
“Quite simply, we must all do what we can to ensure that women across the globe are able to make decisions about their bodies and their environment, which will have a positive impact on their health and their futures.”
Read Dr Bustreo’s statement here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/commentaries/2017/she-decides-health/en/