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President Proposes 10.3% Increase in International Family Planning Assistance

March 09, 2010

President Obama's budget for 2011 calls for a $67million increase in international family planning assistance, a 10.3 percent increase over the 2010 appropriation, but the requested funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is $50 million, $5 million less than last year.

While the proposed increase in funding for family planning was roughly in line with the proposed increase in the Administration's International Affairs budget, which includes spending for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, the $715.7 million request fell significantly short of the $1 billion level supported by international family planning advocates. 

The Administration's request for international family planning assistance is part of the its five-year Global Health Initiative, which aims to ramp up U.S. support for a wide range of health programs, including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.  While the Administration proposes funding increases for all of the various health initiatives in 2011, the largest requested increase, $351 million, was for maternal/child health and nutrition.

Robert J. Walker, executive vice president of the Population Institute, said, "While we welcome the President's continued support for the Global Health Initiative and heartily applaud the boost he has given maternal and child health, the Administration's request for family planning falls far short of what we and others groups have proposed."

"Increased U.S. support for family planning and reproductive health," Walker said, "is critical to achieving many of the U.N.'s millennium development goals, including MDG 5, which seeks to reduce maternal mortality and provide universal access to reproductive health care services by 2015."

In a major policy speech last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the Administration's commitment to MDG 5 and the 1994 Cairo "agenda," which seeks to ensure universal access to family planning, but she acknowledged in her remarks that "far too many women still have little or no access to reproductive health services, including family planning and maternal healthcare." 

"We are committed as ever," Walker emphasized, "to achieving the $1 billion funding level requested by family planning advocates.  In addition to improving maternal and child health, family planning in many developing countries is essential to reducing poverty, raising educational standards, improving the status of women, protecting the environment, and, ultimately, saving the planet."

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