Advance Family Planning gets $34.7M from Gates Foundation to support global advocacy efforts

The Advance Family Planning initiative has received $34.7 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to boost and extend its family planning advocacy efforts. The grant will support efforts to make quality, voluntary family planning easier to access for women and girls around the world. It brings total donor support for the initiative to $96.6 million since 2009 and extends it through 2022.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is the lead coordinating partner for the Advance Family Planning initiative, or AFP, which is made up of nearly 20 local and international non-governmental organizations in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

"AFP is the flagship initiative for family planning advocacy globally—our hard-working partners have set the stage for building an international advocacy movement to increase the availability of family planning," said Duff Gillespie, AFP's principal investigator.

An estimated 214 million women—mostly from the world's poorest countries—want to avoid pregnancy but are not using an effective contraceptive method, according to a 2017 analysis conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization committed to advancing reproductive health around the world. Since its inception in 2009, AFP has worked to increase funding, improve the policy environment, and raise government awareness of family planning's importance to development.

At a landmark summit in 2012, the global community committed to expand family planning access to an additional 120 million women and girls by 2020, launching the Family Planning 2020, or FP2020, partnership. Since then, AFP advocacy has prompted national and subnational governments and corporations to budget $44 million for family planning, often for the first time. It has also enabled 260 policy improvements that expand contraceptive access and choice.

The new grant will supplement advocacy efforts in eight countries—Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda—as well as the Francophone West African region.

"AFP is committed to strengthening advocacy effectiveness—locally and nationally—to ensure greater local ownership of family planning programs," said Jose "Oying" Rimon II, director for the Gates Institute. "This ownership is essential to sustainability and to meet FP2020 and broader health and development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals, and to improve the prospects of individuals, families, and communities."

Based in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School, the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health conducts and facilitates cutting-edge research and translates science into evidence-informed policies, programs, and practice. The institute works as an innovator, partner, advocate, and convener to bridge the gap between knowledge and implementation and promote access to universal reproductive health and family planning for all.

"For nine years, Advance Family Planning has been a positive force for change by inspiring advocates, champions, and collaborators to protect and promote reproductive health," said Dr. Cynthia Minkovitz, the department's chair. "It will be exciting to see what the future holds."