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Invest in Family Planning and LAPMs

Although national family planning (FP) programs have existed for decades, their work is far from done. The need for effective, modern family planning (FP) has never been greater than it is today, as the largest age cohorts of people in human history move through their reproductive years. FP is not only a human right, it is critical to individual health and well-being and to a country’s social and economic development. FP is also one of the most cost-effective and acceptable preventive health interventions. It saves the lives of women and children, prevents mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and enables couples to choose the number, spacing, and timing of their children. These outcomes reduce poverty, decrease strain on already fragile health care systems and economies, slow population growth, and spur development. Global experience confirms that without broad availability and use of effective modern FP methods and services, fertility levels will remain unsustainably high, maternal and child mortality will remain intractable, and national development will be held back.

Now more than ever, FP services in general, and long-acting and permanent methods of contraception (LAPMs) in particular, are needed both to meet the needs of individuals and couples and to achieve national health and development goals. Such long-acting methods as the hormonal implant and the intrauterine device (IUD) are suitable for all categories of women and can enable them to securely and conveniently fulfill any reproductive intention, whether delaying a first birth or spacing or limiting subsequent births; permanent methods such as female sterilization and male sterilization (vasectomy) are the most effective methods for those who have reached their desired fertility. Yet despite LAPMs’ appropriateness and utility in helping couples achieve these reproductive intentions, the availability and/or use of LAPMs are low in many countries.

The products in this section of the archive make the case, with data and critical analysis, for increasing the availability and use of LAPMs as essential components of the FP method mix. Five advocacy briefs reflect the urgent need for action to refocus attention and resources on reproductive health (RH) and FP. In addition, two working papers (Vasectomy: The Unfinished Agenda and Investing in the Future: Making the Case for LAPMs) argue for the necessity of placing greater emphasis on these LAPMs. Three evaluation and research studies present analyses of the awareness about and use of the IUD and other LAPMs in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Guinea. You will also find a collection of two posters (featured at the Global Health Council conferences in 2007 and 2008) and three presentations that can be adapted for your use. This section is rounded out with four peer-reviewed journal articles that provide perspectives on international health care and the ongoing challenges. Please read and use the resource materials in your work setting.