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What’s the Score: Critical time for World Bank investment in reproductive health

What’s the Score: Critical time for World Bank investment in reproductive health

The World Bank must do better when it comes to reproductive health, according to a new report by IPPF.

At an event co-organized by IPPF and the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) and attended by Jordan’s Princess Sarah Zeid, officials from the World Bank, and representatives of Civil Society, IPPF unveiled its new scorecard which tracks the progress of the World Bank’s reproductive health action plan aimed at helping people in poverty access critical health services around the world.

Today, there are 222 million women who have an unmet need for family planning - the figure for total demand for family planning (use and need) is projected to increase to more than 900 million by 2015

As a major financier of health projects which contribute to increased access to sexual and reproductive health services for women and men across the 57 Reproductive Health Action Plan priority countries, the World Bank has an important role to play in improving the reproductive health of people living in poverty. 

The scorecard revisited: Monitoring and evaluating implementation of the World Bank’s Reproductive Health Action Plan 2010–2015” reveals that, since the introduction of the Reproductive Health Action Plan in 2010, the original ambitions have not been fully realized. It argues that the Bank must increase its new financial commitments to reproductive health each year and ensure a renewed strategy on reproductive health is in place from 2015.

Sustained advocacy from IPPF and civil society groups urging the Bank to include reproductive health indicators in its strategies and measurements systems, has led to the Bank committing to including contraceptive prevalence rate in the International Development Association 17 Results Measurement System. 

IPPF welcomes this move and hopes that the Bank will heed the Scorecard’s recommendation to include other reproductive health indicators such as unmet need for family planning in Bank strategies and future Measurement Systems.

White Ribbon Alliance champion, Princess Sarah Zeid said: "Women and men all over the world tell us that they desperately need ways to space the births of their children, to ensure not only the health and survival of mothers and newborns, but the prosperity of their families and communities. The international community recognizes the critical importance access to contraception plays in advancing equity and development around the world, and we applaud the on-going efforts of governments, organizations and civil society to ensure the rights of all women are realized."

IPPF Director General, Tewodros Melesse speaking of the need to measure the World Bank’s efforts on reproductive health added: “We have a role to ensure that investment and programming are targeted efficiently and according to the different realities on the ground. Worryingly, our tracking shows that Bank’s new investments towards reproductive health for 2013, declined from 2012, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the Bank’s total health budget. Reproductive health investments in 2013 made up 7% of the Bank’s total health budget, compared with 24% in 2012. If the Bank does not increase its new commitments to reproductive health in coming years, there is a risk of seeing a downward trend in the Bank’s future funding. This would be detrimental to a country’s ability to strengthen their health systems for people in poverty.”

“The Bank has a vital role to play in creating demand for essential reproductive health services for people. We remain optimistic that the Bank can turn around its performance by increasing the level of their investment in years to come and committing to a new reproductive health strategy from 2015”.

Jackson Chekweko, Executive Director, Reproductive Health Uganda, IPPF Member Association said: “We need to see investment. This will ensure continued improvements in reproductive health outcomes on the ground for countries most in need of investment. It will help to accelerate progress on Millennium Development Goal 5, where least progress has thus far been made.”

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