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FHI 360 celebrates World Contraception Day, September 26

September 23, 2016

This year on World Contraception Day, FHI 360 is reflecting on our cutting-edge leadership in transforming family planning policies and increasing the availability of high-quality contraceptive methods, counseling and services around the world.

“At FHI 360, we have more than four decades of success in helping women and families prevent unintended pregnancy,” said Dr. Laneta Dorflinger, Distinguished Scientist and Director of Contraceptive Technology Innovation (CTI). “Our current portfolio of work is contributing to the development and introduction of new and improved methods of contraception with a focus on acceptability, affordability, quality and safety. We also help women, men and youth access family planning through operations research, research utilization and programs in the field.”

family portraitAmong our newest research projects is the Envision FP project, awarded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in August 2015. The project’s research agenda focuses on refining and improving existing contraceptive methods, as well as on developing new methods. FHI 360 also works with country-based stakeholders to respond to product-related issues that may affect provision.

Our current CTI portfolio includes support for the CTI Exchange, a platform for increasing global access to resources on contraceptive research, development, registration and introduction through collaboration and knowledge sharing. The CTI Exchange recently hosted an exciting blog series about research on new male contraceptive methods.

One existing method of male contraception, vasectomy is among the most cost-effective and safest family planning methods, but it is underused in low-resource settings. FHI 360 staff recently developed advocacy resources to help decisionmakers and program planners understand the advantages of vasectomy and advocate for its inclusion in a country’s method mix. We developed these resources with funding from USAID under the Evidence project.

FHI 360 was also one of the first organizations to harness the potential of mobile phones to deliver simple, accurate and globally relevant information on reproductive health directly to individuals through our Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH) service. And, we recently published the m4RH Toolkit, which shares our results, experiences and insights from this service. The m4RH project started in Kenya and Tanzania and was adapted later in Rwanda, Uganda and several other countries. The scalability of the project was highlighted in August in an article covering the m4RH launch in Uganda by CIO East Africa, a leading magazine for the information and communications technology industry in the region.

Our family planning research agenda is rooted in the pursuit of improved programs. Recent research aimed to identify barriers to access of contraceptive services among female sex workers in Kenya and to inform a service delivery intervention that would enhance access and use. This study found that alternative service delivery options, such as integrating contraceptive services at drop-in centers for female sex workers, could improve access and use. Results of the study were published recently in Contraception.

In another major study just published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, FHI 360 research, led by Senior Epidemiologist David Hubacher, found that increased voluntary uptake of long-acting reversible contraception will benefit broader populations of women than previously thought. This new evidence supports policy recommendations calling for wider access to long-acting, reversible contraception to improve reproductive health for adolescent girls and women.

The vision of World Contraception Day is a world where every pregnancy is wanted. Family planning allows women and couples to time their pregnancies and plan the size of their families. This leads to many other societal benefits, such as improvements in maternal and infant health, as well as improvements in educational attainment, economic development and the environment. In fact, family planning enables progress on nearly every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

More information about FHI 360’s work in contraception and family planning is available here.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360