Meeting Unmet Need: New strategies

 This issue of "Population Reports" explores the concept of "unmet need" for family planning (FP) and presents new strategies FP programs can use to meet this need.  To focus on unmet need, FP programs solicit the statements of women through surveys, identify the groups most likely to be interested in accepting contraception, and attempt to reach these groups with services.  Unmet need affects over 100 million women in developing countries (a third of them in India) and an average of 20% of all married women of reproductive age in the developing world.  Strategies to address unmet need should 1) maximize access to good quality services, 2) emphasize communication, 3) focus on men as well as women, and 4) collaborate with other services for new mothers and young children.  This report opens with an introductory summary and then focuses on the relationship of unmet need and FP programs through a consideration of the concept and measurement of unmet need, the extent of unmet need, trends in unmet need, abortion as an indicator of unmet need, and unmet need versus demand for contraception.  The second major section addresses the reasons for unmet need (which include health concerns and side effects, lack of information, family and community opposition, a perception that there is little risk of pregnancy, and apparent ambivalence).  The third section considers who has unmet need and discusses unmet need levels by women's characteristics as well as differences among women with unmet need.  The next section details the program implications and strategies mentioned above.  Finally, a process to address unmet need is presented that depends upon analysis, strategic design, implementation, and monitoring/evaluation.  Among the highlighted information is a checklist of possible programmatic steps to address the most common reasons for unmet need.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,Center for Communication Programs,The INFO Project