Guest Blog Post by Lauren VanEnk, Program Officer, Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University (IRH)
For decades, India’s national family planning (FP) program has emphasized female sterilization, resulting in limited contraceptive method options for those with an unmet need for FP, especially for spacing pregnancies. However, following the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which recommended high-quality services and a range of methods, the Government of India adopted a national population policy in 2000 that shifted its FP program’s focus from achieving target-driven demographic goals to ensuring reproductive health and rights, including voluntary and informed choice.
While the reasons women cite for nonuse of FP in India are nuanced, data from the 2005–2006 National Family Health Survey (NFHS) show that discontinuation rates are highest for injectables and the pill, primarily due to concerns over side effects. Women who do not intend to use FP state their top reasons as fertility-related (e.g., infrequent sex, menopause, or perception of infecundity), opposition, or concern over side effects. By expanding the array of available FP methods—in addition to improving counseling for all methods—it is more likely that women will begin using and continue to use the option that best suits their needs and desires.
From November 12–15, an estimated 4,000 government officials, policymakers, program managers, researchers, academics, and youth advocates will gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 3rd Annual International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP).
The theme of this year’s conference—cohosted by The Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health—is “Full Access, Full Choice,” echoing the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) initiative's call to ensure that rights and contraceptive choice are central to meeting the commitment made at the London Summit on Family Planning to reach an additional 120 million women with access to contraception by 2020.
Last week, the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) held their 14th annual meeting in Delhi, India. The meeting, cohosted by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, convened more than 200 participants from civil society, the private sector, and governments to work collaboratively toward strengthening the core principles of commodity security—method choice, quality, and equity—to increase access to affordable, high-quality family planning (FP). (more…)
Celebrating World Contraception Day
Today, the international community celebrates World Contraception Day. This global campaign strives to increase awareness of contraception and encourage its use to enable people to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and to prevent unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. This year’s motto, “Your Future, Your Choice, Your Contraception,” targets young people.
This past July, more than 300 participants representing governments, civil society organizations, youth networks, United Nations (UN) agencies, and human rights experts and defenders converged in the Netherlands for the International Conference on Human Rights: ICPD Beyond 2014. Hosted by the Government of The Netherlands, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, attendees addressed the links between human rights, equality, accountability, and population and development.
EngenderHealth and Futures Group recently published a new framework, Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Conceptual Framework, that offers a holistic approach to realizing human rights as a part of voluntary, high-quality family planning (FP) services. The framework’s linkage of FP and human rights was informed and supported by systematic reviews of supporting evidence and available tools. The results of these reviews are now available in two companion papers:
Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Systematic Review of Evidence synthesizes the findings from a literature review of more than 290 relevant interventions, evaluations, and case studies, to engender a better understanding of the elements of a successful rights-based FP program. The report reviews the current evidence for rights-based FP and identifies practices that protect and fulfill the rights of clients and prospective FP users to achieve desired reproductive intentions.
Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Systematic Review of Tools presents an extensive review of 150 training and assessment tools, frameworks, methodologies, implementation guides, and job aids that support and promote the fulfillment of rights at the policy, service, community, and individual levels. Links to the tools reviewed are provided, to allow policymakers, program planners, and managers to access resources that will enable them to assess, design, implement, monitor, and evaluate rights-based FP programs.
How can public health programs oriented toward increasing family planning access and use ensure they reach as many people as possible with lifesaving contraception in a way that respects, protects, and fulfills human rights?
Today, the Futures Group and EngenderHealth launched a joint publication, Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Conceptual Framework that presents a new framework for holistic, quality family planning (FP) programs with clients and their rights at the core. This practical framework integrates human rights law and principles with FP program and quality of care frameworks, and depicts how key concepts translate into concrete interventions, outputs, and outcomes into programming. It offers a pathway for governments and other implementing partners to fulfill their commitments to the provision of voluntary FP services that respect, protect, and fulfill individuals’ human rights as programs pursue health and development goals.
“In the wake of the London Summit on Family Planning, we have seen a reenergized commitment among governments and donors to expand access to FP, especially under the FP2020 initiative,” said Jan Kumar, Senior Technical Advisor at EngenderHealth and one of the framework’s authors. “As this framework highlights, however, it is critical that any efforts to scale up family planning over the next decade must be met by equal attention to ensuring that programs respect, protect, and fulfill human rights and put clients’ needs and preferences at their core.”
Over the past decade, Malawi’s family planning (FP) program has made remarkable strides in expanding access to FP to help women and couples better meet their desired family size. As a direct result of advocacy efforts and renewed government commitment to FP, a broader mix of contraceptive options are becoming more widely and equitably available, including long-acting and permanent methods (LA/PMs) such as implants and female sterilization. However, despite impressive gains , high unmet need and barriers to FP information and services persist. To learn more, EngenderHealth's Holly Connor sat down with Dorothy Nyasulu, Assistant Representative for UNFPA/Malawi and a leading champion on human rights and gender equality for over 20 years, to discuss the intersection of FP, contraceptive choice, and human rights in her home country.
 The modern contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) increased from 22.4 in 2004 to 32.6 by 2010 (Malawi Demographic and Health Surveys)
The London Summit on Family Planning, which took place a year ago this month, kicked off a potentially new era for international family planning (FP). By focusing renewed attention, rallying political commitment, and garnering a substantial increase in pledged funding to support services, it raised FP on the global health and development agenda. The London Summit also reinvigorated the focus on human rights in FP programs, which coalesced in part around the concern that human rights could be sacrificed in the pursuit of the numerical goal of reaching 120 million new women and girls in the world's poorest countries with FP information, services, and supplies by 2020 (known as FP2020). Attention to these issues has also been fueled by preparations to formulate the post-2015 development agenda that will follow the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). (more…)