The UK government has made significant cuts to its foreign aid budget, including funding for critical and essential reproductive health services. Such services include abortion and contraceptive care, which, for many people living in low- to middle-income countries can already be difficult to access. The UK’s aid spending cuts will only exacerbate the health care, racial, gender and economic inequities the world’s most marginalized communities already face.
“These cuts will hurt Ipas and our partners; but they will have the greatest impact on millions of women and girls, leaving them without often lifesaving contraception and sexual and reproductive health care,” says Anu Kumar, Ipas president and CEO.
The UK’s dramatic shift in funding priorities comes during a global pandemic, which has devastated health systems, disrupted supply chains, and claimed millions of lives worldwide. The 85% cut to UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, reduces the UK commitment from 154 million pounds to 23 million pounds—and when combined with the other cuts to reproductive health care funding will result in increases to the already roughly 120 million unintended pregnancies each year, and consequently, the 35 million abortions with unsafe methods.
“The UK has been a staunch supporter of sexual and reproductive health care for many years. In the aftermath of the Trump administration’s expanded restrictions on global health spending, ideological attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights, a year of collective Covid-19 trauma, and so many of the world’s women on the frontlines of climate and humanitarian crises, this decision feels out of touch with the reality of people’s lives. We sincerely hope that UK officials will reverse this decision and uphold their commitments,” adds Kumar.