Select Committee on International Development Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Marie Stopes International

  1.  Marie Stopes International (MSI) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working in 38 countries. The organisation has more than two decades' experience in providing reproductive health information and services through a network of global partners. MSI welcomes this opportunity to raise key issues relating to reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in the DFID Departmental Report 2002.

  2.  MSI notes that the Public Service Agreement (PSA) 1999-2000—2001-02 commitment for maternal mortality[1] has not been met. Despite this, maternal mortality is not mentioned as an objective in the current PSA 2001-02—2003-04, although it is the sixth stated target of the Millennium Development Goals. Also, objective IV (c) "Improving access to reproductive healthcare" in the current PSA has no specified target. Setting appropriate targets is crucial for tracking progress as well as to determine whether the target has been "met", is "on track" or is "below target".

  3.  MSI is concerned at the continuing shortage and projected shortfall of reproductive health supplies, including condoms. Provision of these essential commodities is key to increasing access and preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

  4.  One of the issues in maintaining the supply of reproductive health commodities is donor funding, which peaked in 1996 at US$68 million and fell to US$40 million in 1999 and 2000. There is already a recognised "unmet need" for contraception, which has been calculated at 350 million couples who want to use family planning methods but don't currently have access to them. At the same time, demand for these commodities is rapidly increasing, due to a growing number of young people entering the reproductive age bracket. Several MSI programmes, particularly our African Partners constantly face commodities shortage and are forced to turn away clients who are in urgent need of condoms and contraceptive methods.

  5.  The United Nations Population Fund estimates that the number of condoms required will approximately triple to 18.6 billion in 2015, at a cost of US$557 million. This figure does not include delivery and distribution costs, nor does it include the commodities required for contraceptive use.

  6.  The NGO sector can play a vital role in supplying commodities and providing post-service/sale care through their existing networks of centres and outlets, accessed by tens of thousands of individuals wishing to plan families and/or practise safer sex.

  7.  MSI recommends the Select Committee to seek from DFID:

    1.  Clarification from DFID about (a) its resource allocation to the Global Fund on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, particularly for the procurement of condoms for each year from 2002-03, over a five-year period (b) the resources allocated to reproductive health commodities, other than condoms in order to achieve Target 5 (c).

    2.  (a) Acknowledgement of the current shortfall in global reproductive health commodities, including condoms, and a commitment from the UK Government to increase its allocation to address this very specific and important problem (b) significant increase in future health and population funding to meet the ever-widening shortfall between provision and need.

    3.  Clarification of PSA targets vis-a"-vis Millennium Development Goals (Targets 6, 7, 8 and Goals 5 and 6) and ensure that there is consistency of targets being pursued and indicators being measured, in order to accurately monitor progress against PSA and MDG targets.

    4.  Commitment to closely involve the NGO sector in delivering services and supplying reproductive health commodities in developing countries.

Marie Stopes International

June 2002

1   Three-quarters reduction in maternal mortality by 2015. Back

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