September 2016

{Malagasy CHV from Anjeva presenting family planning options to a young woman. (Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH)}Malagasy CHV from Anjeva presenting family planning options to a young woman. (Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH)

When it comes to contraceptives, having choices is key.

More than 220 million women around the world want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern methods of contraception.

Reasons for this vary, from family disapproval, to fear of side effects, to infrequent sex. Increasing access to multiple contraceptive options can allay some of these barriers.

Without multiple options, a woman who is dissatisfied with her current method may stop using contraception completely. With more choices, she can switch to another method and have the support she needs to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

Family planning is important not only for women’s health and empowerment, but it also helps reduce pervasive poverty and environmental degradation, and contributes to our goal of an AIDS-free generation. According to the World Health Organization, family planning has the potential to reduce maternal deaths by one-third and reduce newborn, infant, and child deaths by 10 percent.  

Femi Oke, international journalist and emcee (L) and Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, president and CEO of MSH (R) toast to health systems heroes on September 20 in New York. (Photo credit: David Neff)

One year ago, the UN General Assembly adopted an ambitious new agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 3 of the SDGs requires a focus on health systems strengthening to meet targets for universal health coverage and primary care. MSH and partners hosted many lively discussions on stronger health systems for women and children, epidemic prevention, and prevention of chronic diseases during the 71st UN General Assembly week. Here are some highlights from New York.

A Toast to Health Systems Heroes

Left to right: Health Systems Hero Annette Widmann-Mauz, Parliamentary State Secretary, Germany; Presenter Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director General, Health Systems and Innovation, WHO; Health Systems Hero Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare, Japan; and Health Systems Hero Michael Myers, Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation, at "A Toast to Health Systems Heroes." (Photo Credit: David Neff)