• Contraceptive Technology Innovation

    Julia Bunting

    Population Council | President

    Laneta Dorflinger, PhD

    FHI 360 | Distinguished Scientist and Director, Contraceptive Technology Innovation
    A woman and her infant in Mexico.

    A woman and her infant in Mexico. © 2000 Rick Maiman, Courtesy of Photoshare

    This “Why do we need contraceptive technology innovation?” blog series has showcased the critical need for new approaches in contraception development and some of the most exciting advances in process. We’ve highlighted upcoming technologies—from biodegradable implants, microneedle patches, and male contraceptives to vaginal rings, cervical mucus fortifiers, and mobile phone applications. We’ve explored innovations beyond technology, including the importance of placing the needs and preferences of end users at the forefront when starting any new product development and we’ve considered what it takes to scale up contraceptive access and actually get new technologies to end-users.

    But there is still so much work left to do.

  • Lyndsey Mitchum

    CCP | Program Coordinator
    Mothers and children in Antaralava village in Ranomafana, Madagascar

    Mothers and children in Antaralava Village, Ranomafana, Madagascar. Credit: 2017 David Alexander/CCP

    On May 22, 2018, Family Planning 2020, Health Policy Plus (HP+), Palladium, and the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project hosted Monitoring Matters: Tracking Progress Toward Family Planning Goals to discuss innovative tools within the Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) that are being used to help country governments accelerate their progress towards meeting family planning goals.

    During this webinar, Family Planning 2020’s Eva Ros provided an overview of CIPs and the Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) Resource Kit, and discussed how countries at both national and sub-national levels are currently using CIPs. This tool, available on FP2020’s website, features guidance documents, resources, and best practices based on hands-on experience to assist program planners, ministry representatives, and technical assistance providers to go through the CIP process.

  • Contraceptive Technology Innovation

    Babitha George

    Quicksand | Partner

    Anna Lawton

    FHI 360 | Cultural Analyst/Ethnographer
    why family planning

    Illustration: Emmanuel Nyakwada

    When it comes to female contraceptive products, innovation has been more evolutionary than revolutionary. With high unmet need still present, a huge opportunity exists to look at new ways to design products that respond to women’s needs and preferences, rather than forcing women to change their behaviors to suit existing products.

    Human-centered design (HCD, also known as “user-centered” design) is a creative, solutions-based approach to problem-solving that puts “users” (in our case, women) at the center of the product design process. Users are actively engaged at every step to ensure their needs and expectations inform the design. We do this by testing the validity of our assumptions with users themselves, in an iterative fashion. This also allows us to move beyond the existing conditions of “what is” to the forward-thinking potential of “what if?” with sensitivity and empathy.

  • Contraceptive Technology Innovation

    Saumya RamaRao

    Population Council | Senior Associate

    Loreley Villamide-Herrera

    Population Council | Biomedical Program Manager
    Vaginal rings are a novel drug delivery platform unlike other forms of existing contraceptives.

    Vaginal rings are a novel drug delivery platform unlike other forms of existing contraceptives. Photo by James DeGroat, courtesy of the Population Council.

    Expanding contraceptive options for voluntary family planning is critical for three reasons. First, different people have different needs for pregnancy protection depending on their own individual and family situations. Further, a woman’s needs may change as she progresses through her reproductive life. With that in mind, family planning programs that focus on high-quality services and human rights should offer a wide range of contraceptive options to meet her needs, wherever she’s at in life.

  • Contraceptive Technology Innovation

    Frederik Petursson Madsen

    Circle Biomedical | CEO
    Human sperm stained for semen quality testing in the clinical laboratory.

    Human sperm stained for semen quality testing in the clinical laboratory. Photo: Bobjgalindo. Via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

    The author wishes to thank Thomas Crouzier, group leader at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, for his contributions to this blog post.

    Over the past several decades, contraceptive innovation has mainly focused on advancing hormone-based technologies, which proven themselves to be highly effective at preventing pregnancy. However, their side effects are often cause for discontinuance.

    Concerns about hormonal contraception have been well documented by women living in the US and Europe. They are also being raised in low- and middle-income countries, where 26% of women who want to avoid pregnancy do not use hormonal contraceptives because of known or perceived side effects; another 24% opt out because they have infrequent sex and/or do not want a systemic solution.

  • Contraceptive Technology Innovation

    Stephen Ward, Ph.D.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Program Officer, Discovery & Translational Sciences (Global Health Program)
    A young woman in Taldi, Canning, India, educates village women about the benefits of having only a single child, and the necessity of family planning.

    A young woman in Taldi, Canning, India, educates village women about the benefits of having only a single child, and the necessity of family planning. © 2017 Nimai Chandra Ghosh, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Access to safe and effective methods of family planning is fundamental to health, education, economic opportunities, and empowerment. Access, however, must mean more than having products present on shelves (although it has to mean that too). To achieve what might be coined as “transformational access,” a level of sustainable access that truly meets the needs of women, we need products that are easier to use, readily fit with women’s lives and preferences, and don’t create their own barriers to continued use. Unfortunately, this is the challenge for millions of women globally who struggle with side effects associated with hormonal methods, particularly changes in menstrual bleeding patterns, which are strongly associated with method discontinuation. While these are among the most effective and safest pharmaceutical products that have ever been developed, they also present women with the regular decision to use a product that presents daily challenges in their life. For this reason, discovery of non-steroidal contraceptive drugs has long been something of a holy grail in contraceptive R&D.

  • Simone Parrish

    CCP | Global Repository Director

    From June 19-21, 2018, K4Health Director Tara Sullivan and USAID LEARN Chief of Party Piers Bocock will once again offer their course, "Improving Global Public Health Through Knowledge Application, Continuous Learning, and Adaptation." It is offered through the Summer Institute of the Health, Behavior, and Society Department of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH).

  • Contraceptive Technology Innovation

    Markus Steiner

    FHI 360 | Senior Epidemiologist & Director, Gates-funded Sino-implant Initiative

    Kate Rademacher, MHA

    FHI 360 | Technical Advisor, Contraceptive Technology Innovation
    Women receive contraceptive implants in the Sub-Karunrung District of Rappocini, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

    Women receive contraceptive implants in the Sub-Karunrung District of Rappocini, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. © 2015 Ismail Amin, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Contraceptive implants have been available for over 30 years and are one of the most effective methods available. Until recently, however, international donors did not procure significant quantities, and use of the method in low- and middle-income countries was very low. This access barrier was largely due to the high cost of implant commodities. The situation mirrored the classic, paradoxical question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? In this case, without lower commodity prices, procurements of implants would not increase in many international settings. But without higher volumes, manufacturers couldn’t lower their prices and still achieve a sustainable business model.

  • mHealth

    Sophie Weiner

    CCP | Communications Specialist
    Tamunotonye Harry is a Nigerian-based digital health advocate who has completed several courses through K4Health’s Global Health eLearning platform.

    Tamunotonye Harry is a Nigerian-based digital health advocate who has completed several courses through K4Health’s Global Health eLearning platform. Photo Credit: Carrot Photography.

    Tamunotonye Harry is a young digital health professional based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. After learning about the Global Health eLearning Center (GHeL) and taking a course on digital health, Tamunotonye connected with K4Health for information about our Global Digital Health Network. In this lightly edited interview, Tamunotonye explains how discovering GHeL has influenced his career path in a positive way.

    How did your experience in the National Youth Service Corps engage you in mHealth work?

    Tamunotonye Harry: I graduated from the University of Port Harcourt with a degree in Human Physiology in 2015. I had to wait a whole year before I was finally accepted into the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). The one-year gap was actually a blessing as I used this time to gain work and volunteer experience, which involved building capacity for children with disabilities.

  • Contraceptive Technology Innovation

    Martha Brady

    PATH | Director of Reproductive Health

    Maggie Kilbourne-Brook

    PATH | Senior Program Officer

    This piece originally appeared on the Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (IMPT)'s blog.

    Incorporating what women want into new sexual and reproductive health products is essential

    Incorporating what women want into new sexual and reproductive health products is essential. Photo: PATH/Will Boase

    We at PATH make it our business to reflect on the elusive topic of "what women want"—in terms of protection options in their sexual and reproductive lives. Not surprisingly, the answer is complex. Women want and need different things at different stages of their lifecycle, depending on the circumstances of their lives.

    For decades, PATH has worked closely with women and girls in low-resource settings, as well as with diverse partner organizations, to develop, introduce, and scale up innovative technologies that improve women’s health. Our efforts include a strong focus on advancing women’s reproductive health literacy and decision-making autonomy not only as fundamental rights, but also as key building blocks to product uptake and effective use.