Africa’s Population Challenge – Accelerating Progress in Reproductive Health

James E. Rosen and Shanti R. Conly

This report is the fourth in a series, including studies on China, India and Pakistan, which examines family planning and other reproductive health services in the developing world. The report highlights the progress countries in sub-Saharan Africa have made towards expanding access to these services and the key challenges they face, drawing on research by and interviews with experts on Africa, and information the authors gathered during visits to African countries.

Africa’s hopes for a better future depend in large part on improving the health of its people. Better access to good quality reproductive health services, particularly family planning, is key to improving health status — especially for women. In much of Africa, however, large families are still the norm. This situation is reinforced by low levels of education, particularly among women, and social barriers to the full economic participation of women.  Yet traditional attitudes favoring large families are changing rapidly, owing to the growth of cities, the rising cost of living and lower child death rates, among other factors. Still, Africa has a long way to go. In addition to meeting the growing need for family planning and reproductive health services, African countries must expand access to education for girls and economic opportunities for women. This will require significantly increased financial contributions from African governments and households, as well as international donors.

In sum, addressing poor reproductive health and rapid population growth is a daunting task requiring comprehensive action on many different fronts.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Preface
  • Executive Summary
  • Expanding and Improving Family Planning and Related Reproductive Health Services
  • Improving the Status of Women
  • Assuring Adequate Funding
  • Average Number of Births Per Women in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Unmet Need for Contraception: Sub-Saharan African Countries and Selected Regions
  • Access to Health Care in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Key Social Indicators for Sub-Saharan Africa and Other Developing Regions
  • Declining Natural Resource Availability in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Food Production Per Person Selected Regions and the World 1961-1997
  • Growth in Numbers of School Age Children in Sub-Saharan Africa 1995, 2010 and 2025