Ten Elements of Family Planning Success

  • Ruwaida Salem

    CCP | Associate Managing Editor, Global Health: Science and Practice

    Family planning experts from USAID, UNFPA, WHO, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and 14 nongovernmental and private organizations met on July 9-10, 2012, ahead of the landmark London Summit on Family Planning, to review evidence around high-impact practices in family planning (HIPs).

    Mothers in Mozambique take their children for vaccination

    Mothers in Nampula, Mozambique take their children for vaccination.

    © 2003 Arturo Sanabria, Courtesy of Photosh

    Meeting at UNFPA headquarters in New York, the participants discussed evidence on eight specific practices that, when scaled up and institutionalized, will maximize investments in family planning programs:

    • Provide family planning counseling and services at the same time and location where women receive treatment for complications related to abortion. Many postabortion clients have a clear need and demand for family planning, and strong evidence demonstrates that providing family planning services at the same time and location where women receive postabortion treatment is feasible, acceptable, and effective.
    • Train, equip, and support community health workers (CHWs) to provide a wide range of contraceptive methods. CHWs can be an important means of reducing inequities in access to services, especially in areas where individuals face physical and social barriers to health services.
    • Provide a wide range of contraceptive methods through mobile outreach services—services provided by a mobile team of trained providers such as physicians and nurses, sometimes in a vehicle such as a van or bus that is equipped with clinic facilities. Mobile outreach provides services to women and men in the communities where they live and work, as do CHWs. While CHWs provide a limited range of contraceptive methods, such as oral contraceptives, condoms, and sometimes injectables, mobile outreach services have the added benefit of giving people direct access to long-acting and permanent methods (LAPMs).

  • Angela Nash-Mercado

    Formerly CCP | Partnerships Director

    A community of family planning practitioners, programmers and advocates are meeting in Dakar, Senegal this week at the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning. All participants share a common concern for the health and well being of women and families worldwide, and I’ve been struck by the enthusiasm and commitment that fills the air each day. I keep hearing calls for collaboration and sharing—and, indeed, that’s what this conference is about. Participants are sharing data and experiences, but they’re also reinforcing old connections and making new ones.


    In the plenary on Thursday, Stephen O’Brien from DFID (the U.K. Department for International Development) called for creative collaboration, specifically for the integration of sexual and reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Michael Mbizvo from WHO (the World Health Organization) spoke about how we are all serving a common population with common health services and common health providers. There’s a huge need to deliver an integrated response that strengthens systems to improve all outcomes for reproductive health and HIV, and therefore collaboration is critical to best serve the end user.

  • Women of the World

    Rebecca Shore

    CCP | Program Officer II

    © 2005 Daren Trudeau, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Male involvement in family planning is not a new discovery to the field of public health, although often it is overlooked as a means of outreach. NPR highlights Nigeria’s struggle to involve men in family planning in its recent blog this week discussing the Society for Family Health’s mass media campaign targeted towards men and family planning. Though this program was seen as successful because men were more frequently accompanying their wives to the family planning clinic, there was skepticism whether women in Nigeria will use contraceptives and reduce the size of their families. A professor at Brown University, Daniel Smith, believes that Nigerians favor large extended families as a way to stay socially connected so it will be an uphill battle to reduce family size, even if there is an increase in contraceptive use.

    In Jordan, USAID’s male involvement in family planning and reproductive health program found that after six years of implementing the program, men were more likely to include their wives in decision-making and a higher percentage of the population was accurately informed about the different contraceptive methods. Prior to the beginning of the project, the use of modern family planning methods was limited because of husband opposition and religious and health concerns. Many societies have a patriarchal structure and without the approval of men, women have very little choice in their contraception. In a study in Cambodia where there was a high level of knowledge and accessibility to contraceptives, women were more likely to use contraceptive if they perceived their husband’s approval and if they felt there was an ease of communication between them.

    In other recent news, Ashley Judd, actress and activist, discussed the need for men to be active in family planning and their power in women’s reproductive health choices worldwide. Judd urged family planning programs in developing countries to involve men because of their significant influence over women’s reproductive health decisions. Male methods of contraceptives make up only 26% of contraceptive use globally: 12% withdrawal and abstinence, 7% vasectomy, and 7% condoms. Beyond men’s involvement in choosing to use male contraceptive methods of vasectomy or condoms, they should also be included in family planning discussions and counseling generally to encourage or facilitate a women’s contraceptive choice. Reproductive choices are imperative to a healthy pregnancy and healthy children. Involving men in these choices removes a common barrier to women’s use of family planning, which, in turn, empowers women and girls in all aspects of their lives.

  • Cassandra Mickish Gross

    CCP | Program Officer II
    A midwife discusses family planning with men and women during immunization day in Pader District, Uganda. © 2008 Diana Nambatya, Courtesy of Photoshare
    On Tuesday at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna I attended a symposium titled “Integrating Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV: Lessons from the Field.” The panelists included experts in integration from around the world and provided diverse insight into the field of integration. 

  • Cassandra Mickish Gross

    CCP | Program Officer II
    © 2006 Felix Masi/Voiceless Children, Courtesy of Photoshare
    One of the major focus areas of the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna is on the growing HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and how harm reduction strategies can help prevent HIV transmission. HIV in these regions is concentrated in the most at-risk populations, including intravenous drug users, sex workers, and men who have sex with men.