Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Experts Call for Family Planning Gaps to be Addressed Ahead of 2020

May 30, 2013

Experts at Women Deliver 2013 have called for a clear set of priorities and to address gaps in research in order to realise the shortfalls in family planning as the world moves towards 2020.  The discussion followed earlier deliberations agreed upon by a group of bilateral, multilateral and private funders in December last year and recognised the need for more research to better inform family planning for 2020 and fill critical knowledge gaps.

The major gaps noted by the Population Council include identifying and understanding the needs of the most vulnerable and underserved; assessing the impact of structural interventions and family planning use; evaluating and expanding interventions tailored to the specific needs of adolescents living in varying circumstances; determining the cost effectiveness of strategies for mainstreaming integrated family planning services; and identifying innovative and sustainable financing mechanisms that increase access without compromising choice or affordability.

In a panel discussion at the conference, Population Council's director of reproductive health services and research, Ian Askew, noted that there is still a very high need for family planning.

“This need is based on changing situations," he said, "like urbanization and the fact that populations are becoming younger. The fact that there are changing situations calls for a range of methods to tackle the diverse family planning needs.

 “One of the missing links in the delivery of family planning is that we need to go beyond the health of people. We need to engage with the right people from the very beginning and at the end of the day we will ask ourselves: how can we best implement a family planning intervention by providing the right services?”

“One of the challenges with adolescents is that it is a group in transition. There is no single magic bullet to address the diversity of their family planning needs, whether boys or girls, married or unmarried, urban or rural.”

Representatives from the December meeting called for adolescent needs to be addressed by identifying the most vulnerable, understanding their situations and working out approaches that address those needs like education and the right family planning services.

According to Marleen Temmerman, a professor of Obstetrics-Gynaecology working with the World Health Organization, there is a need to do more.

“Why don’t we do better?" she asked.  "We need to do better at a health systems level and at a policy level.  We need to provide knowledge as we are scaling up programmes.  For example we need to know why women are switching from one method of contraceptive to another and it has become evident that the rights-based perspective to family planning has a great impact on economies.  We need to guarantee the rights of different groups.  Here we should consider not only the clinical facilities of health structures to be in place but that, where they are lacking, there are human rights-based approaches to ensure that such facilities are demanded by the communities.”

Thoai Ngo, head of research at Marie Stopes International, indicated that there are numerous restrictions for family planning in many countries.

“One of the missing links in the delivery of family planning is that we need to go beyond the health of people.  We need to engage with the right people from the very beginning and at the end of the day we will ask ourselves: how can we best implement a family planning intervention by providing the right services?”

Patricia MacDonald, an advisor with USAID, called for programmers to integrate systems as they scale up family planning interventions.  She noted that integrating delivery approaches leads to efficiency and clear outcomes.

She went on to highlight project cycles which “....are very short term, such as five years.  Scaling up of family planning interventions takes more time.  We need to have longer time frames to implement these interventions.”

 
blog comments powered by Disqus