PIP: The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development proposed increasing contraceptive couple protection from 550 million in 1995 to 880 million in 2015. The task for family planning (FP) programs is to provide access to services for, sometimes, inaccessible rural populations. FP need based on desire for no more children has ranged from under 20% in Senegal to almost 80% in Peru. Socioeconomic development was found not to be a prerequisite for fertility change. Gender inequalities in education and social autonomy must be changed. FP access is very important among women with a disadvantaged background or among women unsure about FP. Bangladesh is a good example of a country with increased contraceptive prevalence despite low income. The rule of thumb is that contraception increases of 15% contribute to a drop in family size of about one child. Program effectiveness is related to a variety of factors: contraceptive availability at many locations, acceptable price of contraception, delivery of the oral contraceptives without prescriptions, and other strategies. FP is a service not a medical treatment. A range of methods must be promoted and available from a range of facilities. Contraceptive use is dependent on the woman’s stage in her lifecycle and is dependent on informed choice. Community-based distribution systems are effective, whereas free distribution by poorly-trained field workers is not always very effective because patient payment of all or part of the cost assures quality and freedom of choice. Effective programs for underprivileged groups involve aggressive, easy to manage programs that can be replicated rapidly. FP serves a useful function in depressing maternal mortality among the poor in Africa, who have no access to quality health services. Social marketing is an effective strategy for reaching remote areas. Political will and robust management are necessary commodities.
Published in People Planet, 1994, 3(3):13-5