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Fight against adolescent pregnancy must match drive to end HIV crisis - ODI experts

Written by Nicola Jones

Press Release

The world needs to respond to the crisis in child marriage and adolescent pregnancy with the same urgency as it ramped up the fight against the HIV crisis, experts at the Overseas Development have warned.

A new briefing published ahead of the Family Planning Summit in London on July 11, highlights how 20,000 adolescent girls give birth every day, with 95% of these births taking place in developing countries and almost 85% occurring to married girls.

But ODI researchers say only a fifth of the funds being spent on HIV are being ploughed into family planning. Latest available figures suggest international donors provide approximately $8 billion annually to stopping the spread of HIV, while the Family Planning 2020 global partnership galvanised just $1.4 billion in 2014.

Researchers say the failure to make fast enough progress is putting the lives - and life chances – of millions of girls at risk. 

Not only are adolescent girls more likely to suffer serious medical complications as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, but girls who become mothers as children are less likely to complete school and more likely to be poor. Children born to adolescent mothers are also more likely to die in infancy and early childhood.

The briefing warns while the world has seen progress towards reducing child motherhood over the last two decades, that progress has been uneven.

  • Some countries, such as India, have seen remarkable reductions.
  • Others, such as Brazil, have largely seen progress stall.
  • Some, including Viet Nam, have seen reversals - with girls now more likely to become mothers in childhood than they were a decade ago.

Nicola Jones, Principal Research Fellow at ODI, said: 'The costs of child marriage and adolescent pregnancy on girls and their children are clear to see, but they also spread across communities, ripple through economies and reverberate across generations.

'Donors urgently need to scale up efforts, in a way that we saw with the global campaign against HIV and AIDS, which managed to turn the tide on new infections in less than two decades.

'If we don’t see a similar mobilisation of funding and strategic interventions then we risk putting the lives and life chances of millions of the world’s girls—and their families - at risk.'


Notes to editors

  • The briefing 'Family planning: the adolescent imperative' will be published on Sunday, July 9
  • The Family Planning Summit, taking place in London on Tuesday, July 11, is co-hosted by the Department for International Development, UNFPA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The figure of 20,000 girls who give birth each day is UNFPA data
  • The HIV funding figure for 2015 is from AVERT
  • The figure for the amount of funding received by the FP2020 is from FP2020

For more information or to arrange an interview with Nicola Jones please contact James Rush on [email protected] or +44 (0)7808 791265