UK Government announces drastic cuts to sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights

Policy and advocacy   |   19 April 2021   |   3 min read

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Simon Cooke, CEO of MSI Reproductive Choices, said: 

“As details emerge of where UK aid cuts will hit, it’s becoming clear that they will have a devastating impact in the world’s poorest countries for years to come, and it is women and girls who will pay the heaviest price.   

“Life-changing sexual and reproductive health services have been savagely impacted, with cuts coming from all sides. Frontline healthcare workers have been hit by the reduced funding to the flagship WISH programme, which over the last two years has saved the lives of 22,000 women. While vital contraceptive supplies have been devastated via the brutal cuts to UNFPA. The speed and magnitude of these cuts will undermine trust between women and their health care providers, and we fear the damage to women’s lives and futures will be worse than that caused by Trump’s Global Gag Rule.

“There is never a good time to step back from this empowering, lifesaving work, but right now is perhaps the worst. Covid-19 has left health systems at breaking point and communities who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are already suffering from its effects. These crises disproportionately affect women and girls, and without reproductive choice, the consequences are even more deadly. 

“Expanding access to sexual and reproductive healthcare is one of the smartest global investments. Over the last 10 years, we have seen the difference that the UK’s leadership on this issue has made to millions of women around the world. The cuts will do untold harm to the progress made on preventing women dying from pregnancy related causes and jeopardise the government’s commitments on girls’ education and increasing resilience to the climate crisis. 

“We call on the government to allow Parliament a vote on whether they agree to renege on its commitment to maintain the 0.7% and thereby undermine the leadership that the UK has established in supporting the world’s poorest communities.”   


Notes 

  • UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, has been informed that the Government of the United Kingdom intends to implement an approximate 85% cut to UNFPA Supplies, the UNFPA flagship programme for family planning, this year.  
  • FCDO funds between 60-70% of the annual budget of UNFPA Supplies each year. 
  • In 2020, MSI Reproductive Choices received an estimated $8.5m worth of commodities from UNFPA. 
  • FCDO has confirmed that the WISH programme will receive no funding in 2021. Over the last two years, the part of the WISH programme managed by MSI has provided reproductive choice to 3.5m women, saving the lives of 22,000 women. With no future WISH funding in the pipeline, the impact on women’s lives and futures will be devastating.   
  • The FCDO also confirmed that the UK Aid Connect programme, led by MSI, will now be closed. If allowed to continue, this would have generated important learnings on how to reach the world’s most marginalised groups with comprehensive SRHR to help them adapt and become more resilient to climate change and humanitarian crises.

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