Malawi is geared up to attend the 2017 high-level Family Planning Summit that will take place on July 11, 2017 in London, United Kingdom (UK).

The UK will co-host the Summit with the Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Minister of Health Dr. Peter Kumpalume is expected to lead the Malawi delegation to the Summit that aims at boosting global commitment to one of the smartest investments governments can make: ensuring women and girls have access to family planning services.

In a statement made available to the Malawi News Agency (Mana) Friday, Kumpalume said, “The Summit could not come at a better time as Malawi is taking stock of the progress that the country has so far made in the area of sexual reproductive health and the challenges we are facing to achieve our goal of 60 percent of all women to have access to modern planning methods of their choice by the year 2020.”

He added that there is already high level government commitment to address the issue of population growth by improving availability and access of modern family planning commodities, by increasing government budgetary allocation specific for procurement of modern family planning methods.
The Minister also disclosed that President Arthur Peter Mutharika has formed an inter-ministerial committee to look into issues that affect the youth in accessing quality health care services.

The Summit that will bring together governments, the UN, foundations, the private sector, civil society and youth advocates from the around the world, seeks, to among other things, accelerate progress to increase access to family planning services for women and girls in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.

Head of the Department for International Development (DFID) in Malawi, Jen Marshal said the UK is proud to host the Summit as it demonstrates the UK’s global leadership and commitment on family planning, sexual and reproductive health.

She said the Summit was important for Malawi that though has made significant progress in the area, still faces challenges.

Marshall said that, “Malawi has made significant important progress by reaching 50 percent modern contraceptive prevalence rate, particularly reaching older, married women…

Some 47 percent of females marry before their eighteenth birthday and nearly one in in three girls, whether married or not, is a mother before they are 20. For Malawi’s pathway out of poverty, whether appropriate information and services are used by those adolescents and young people under 20 (and other vulnerable populations) will be one of the deciding factors between poverty and prosperity.”

She revealed that currently the DFID is implementing a large UK 27.37million Pounds (K25.6billion) Family Planning Programme that provides essential commodities and funds Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) clinic and outreach services across the country.
There is need for careful planning methods to address unchecked population growth that according to the draft Malawi Growth Development Strategy III (MGDS).

There has been rapid population growth in Malawi from 14 million (2010) to 17.2 million (2016) and is expected to triple by 2050 leading to pressure on land, services and other resources.

According to the Ministry of Health, Malawi has increased the contraceptive prevalence rate from seven per cent in 1992 to 58 per cent in 2015/2016 and has decreased the fertility rate from 5.7 children per woman to 4.4. in that same period.

The 2017 Summit comes after another successful Summit also hosted by the UK in 2012 that Malawi also attended.

As part of the preparations, the DFID, Ministry of Health and UNFPA held a media briefing on the above on Wednesday at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.

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