UK & World News
Contraceptives Summit Aims To Save Lives
The UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are hosting an international conference in London on extending family planning access to millions of women in the world's poorest countries.
Health ministers, charities, donors and private sector companies working in the family planning business will discuss increasing the global availability of contraceptives and how to empower women so they have more choices about sex.
One country that urgently needs such help is Malawi, which has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in Africa.
More than 600 women die there for every 100,000 that give birth while childbirth is the biggest cause of death among 15 to 19-year-old girls.
At the London summit, the UK Government will pledge to donate more than £1bn to help family planning services in the developing world.
In a bid to help 24 million girls and women in the world's poorest countries, British aid will be doubled for eight years, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell will announce later.
Aid for family planning will increase from £90m each year to £180m.
Mr Mitchell said the increase in aid will save a woman's life every two hours.
He added: "British support will mean that millions of women who are currently unable to access or use family planning information, services and supplies will be able to decide, freely and for themselves, whether, when and how many children to have."
It is estimated that 220 million women around the world do not have access to contraceptives or information on them.
In some countries women need written consent from their husbands before they can talk to a doctor about contraception while in others, family planning services are not offered to adolescents or unmarried women.
A recent report from Save the Children suggests that pregnancy is the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide.
The charity said that every year one million teenage girls die or are injured because of pregnancy or childbirth.
The summit is expected to be attended by delegates from up to 25 countries, including the US, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
Billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates has called family planning in poor nations one of her "top priorities".
Mrs Gates said: "When I travel and talk to women in developing countries, they all tell me that they want access to contraceptives to be able to plan their families.
"These women want to raise healthy and educated children that can contribute to building prosperous communities."
The Gates Foundation and the US government are expected to later pledge millions of dollars on developing more efficient forms of contraception.