Renewed Efforts to Meet Women’s Reproductive Health Needs Required to Address Stagnation in Family Planning Use in Eastern and Western Africa

"The paper on which this brief is based used data of trends in readiness, willingness, ability, and contraceptive use in Africa from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs), which provide highly standardized and nationally representative information about contraception and health. Specifically, the paper tracked trends in 24 sub-Saharan African countries that had conducted two or more DHSs – 13 countries from western Africa and 11 countries from eastern Africa. The findings of this study point to the need for urgent action at policy and program levels to address the challenges that millions of women face in relation to fertility preferences and their ability to plan the timing and number of children they would like to have. Progress is being made in increasing receptivity to and use of modern contraceptives in Africa, albeit at a very slow pace and at strikingly varying levels. The huge differences in demand, approval, access, and use of modern FP between eastern and western Africa call for a special need to build FP programs in western Africa. Western Africa is consistently behind eastern Africa in all the measures of fertility intentions and contraceptive use examined in this study. The 2004 levels for western Africa are consistently at the level where eastern Africa was in 1991."