Family Planning

Improving the Quality of Life

Despite a wide variety of contraceptive options, 80 million women have unwanted or unintended pregnancies every year. In developing countries, contraceptive use is hindered by cost, lack of access, lack of awareness, and misinformation.

There is a well-established association between fertility and poverty and ill health which underscores the importance of family planning (FP) in the developing world. Research shows that children from households with many children are more likely to be poor and undernourished and less likely to recover from poverty or be educated.

Failure to use contraception can be attributed to over 90% of abortion-related and obstetrical morbidity and mortality and over 30% of maternal deaths occurring each year. FP is also considered one of the most effective ways of reducing infant and child mortality in developing countries. Additionally, FP has recently been recognized as important in gender equality and environmental objectives in international development.

Private Sector and Family Planning

Family Planning Options
  • Condoms
  • Spermicides (in combination with others)
  • Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
  • Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCPs)
  • Injectable Contraceptives (depo provera)
  • Minilaporotomy (female sterilization)
  • Vasectomy (male sterilization)

Condom social marketing programs have shown great success in increasing contraceptive use in developing countries. Social marketing has also been effective in promoting the use of off-prescription oral contraceptive pills. Most social franchise organizations focus on delivering IUDs, injectable contraceptives, and sterilization services. Because of cultural constraints, social franchise and marketing programs are the only outlet for comprehensive family planning services in many developing countries. Undoubtedly, the contribution of these programs to global fertility control has been unparalleled. In 1995, at the apex of FP funding, approximately 60% of married women were using contraception in developing countries.

However, family planning is steadily dropping on list of international development priorities as HIV, aging populations, and immigration concerns take higher priority. The role of the private sector remains critical for family planning: as a vehicle for increasing subsidized access, for sustainable provision, and for assuring a range of commodities and services across all income groups and all social groups.

Strengths

  • Decreased stigma
  • Increased access to contraception
  • Empowers women in their sexual health
  • FP franchises create jobs
  • More affordable contraceptive options

Weaknesses

  • Donor funding declining
  • Misinformation
  • Lack of awareness
  • Men are often contraceptive decision-makers
  • Low volume and low profit service