Achieving universal access to reproductive health, including family planning services and supplies, is essential to ensuring the health and well-being of women and their families. Poor reproductive health is the leading cause of death and disability among women in their childbearing years. An estimated 201 million women in developing countries want to delay or stop childbearing, but lack effective contraceptives. Satisfying their unmet need for family planning would avert 52 million unintended pregnancies each year, saving more than 1.5 million lives and preventing 505,000 children from losing their mothers.
In 2005 the World Summit -- a follow-up to the meetings that launched the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- reaffirmed the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights by addingTarget 5.B.: Achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015 as part of MDG 5: Improving Maternal Health. Contraceptive prevalence rate and unmet need for family planning are indicators for monitoring progress towards this target.