Some Global Health Efforts Just Make Sense

A new study from the Alan Guttmacher Institute found that Ethiopia could save 34 million dollars a year by meeting unmet demand for contraceptive services. It would save the medical costs associated with unintended pregnancies. Expanding contraceptive services would also empower women and improve the health of women and children.

It’s an excellent report, and the logic and the data are solid. Here are some excerpts:

“An estimated 21,300 Ethiopian women died from pregnancy related causes in 2008; about 7,300 of these women had not wanted to become pregnant.”

“Poor women have an especially hard time having only the number of children they want. Although their desired family size is larger than that of their better-off counterparts, poor women experience a larger gap between wanted and actual fertility. In 2005, the poorest women had 1.5 children more than they wanted, whereas the wealthiest, who likely have better access to contraceptives, had 0.9 children more than they wanted.”

And here’s the kicker:

“It would cost $118 million to fulfill half of unmet need for modern contraceptives and $182 million to supply all women in need of a modern method…These costs, which may seem high at first glance, are more than compensated for by the savings that accrue from avoiding medical care expenditures related to unintended pregnancies and unplanned childbearing. For example, the estimated costs of treating postabortion complications; providing prenatal, delivery and routine newborn care; and covering all obstetric emergencies currently total $183 million. These costs would be substantially higher—$279 million—without any modern contraceptive use…” In other words, spending money on contraceptives lets women choose their ideal family size and save the money which would be otherwise spent on unwanted pregnancies.