As world’s Population Nears Seven Billion momentum on Family Planning Builds Ahead of Historic Dakar Meeting

will convene nearly 2,000 policymakers, scientists, and advocates in Senegal on November 29 to December 2.

The world’s population is set to hit seven billion this month, a major milestone with implications for the health and rights of individuals everywhere. Worldwide, 215 million women have an unmet need for family planning – a number that is sure to rise unless unprecedented action is taken. In a world of seven billion, empowering women and ensuring access to contraception for all individuals is a critical development strategy with wide-reaching benefits.

The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) will draw on renewed political support and funding for family planning – as well as the latest in contraception research – to galvanize action and results. The number of registered participants has surpassed a staggering 1,500, with space now limited only to press.

“We’ve seen overwhelming enthusiasm from researchers, advocates, and policymakers alike, ensuring that ICFP 2011 will be the largest meeting of its kind,” said Amy Tsui, Director of The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a conference organizer. “It’s clear that now is the time to turn the world’s focus to family planning. The Government of Senegal has shown tremendous commitment to these issues as host of this event.”

The Vice Presidents of Ghana and Malawi will give keynote speeches, and Melinda Gates will open the conference with a video address. Plenaries and special sessions will feature DFID Under-Secretary Stephen O’Brien and First Ladies of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mozambique, as well as health and finance ministers from across Africa. Press conferences will be held on Wednesday, November 30, and Thursday, December 1 (World AIDS Day).

The ICFP takes place in Dakar, in the heart of West Africa where fertility rates are among the highest in the world. Lack of access to contraception is a key contributor to unintended pregnancies, and in turn maternal and infant mortality. While global progress has been made, maternal death rates remain at dangerously high levels in sub-Saharan Africa. Access to contraception is a cornerstone in efforts to reduce maternal mortality, and to improve the lives of women and their families.

“A world of seven billion people is a distinctive moment in history. It represents an achievement, as well as an unprecedented challenge for the future of the planet and its inhabitants. It also presents a rare opportunity for a call-to-action to renew global commitment for a healthy and sustainable world.” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

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