Population Council

Celebrating 65 Years of
Ideas. Evidence. Impact.

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10 Ideas That Changed the World

Since our founding, asking bold questions and delivering rigorous evidence to improve health and well-being has been at the heart of the Population Council. Our research has addressed critical health and development issues, from slowing the spread of HIV and AIDS to putting women and girls at the center of global development. On this 65th anniversary, we reflect on some of our exciting contributions and collective efforts that have made the world a better place.

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We are biomedical innovators

The Population Council’s Center for Biomedical Research conducts basic and translational science in sexual and reproductive health to develop new approaches and next-generation products that prevent some of the major threats to reproductive health, including sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.

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We are social and behavioral scientists

The Population Council’s social science and public health research expands the global evidence base on critical health and development issues. We work with partners in more than 50 countries to deliver more effective policies and program that improve lives around the world.

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Tools, Publications, and Resources

Population policy options in the developing world

This groundbreaking analysis examined three causes of population growth—unwanted fertility, high desired family size, and population momentum—and advocated a significantly expanded approach to addressing them. The textbook Demography: Measuring and Modeling Population Processes, by Samuel H. Preston, Patrick Heuveline, and Michel Guillot (2001), states that, "Because it clarified the future sources of growth at a time when population policies were being reconsidered on a global scale, Bongaarts’s article is one of the most influential ever written in demography."

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The Balanced Counseling Strategy Plus: A Toolkit for Family Planning Service Providers Working in High HIV/STI Prevalence Settings

The Balanced Counseling Strategy Plus (BCS+) toolkit, developed and tested in Kenya and South Africa, provides the information and materials that healthcare providers need to offer complete, high-quality family planning counseling to clients living in areas with high rates of HIV and STIs.

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The effectiveness of a community-based education program on abandoning female genital mutilation/cutting in Senegal

Council researchers found that the reported prevalence of FGM/C decreased significantly among village girls ages 10 and younger after community exposure to an empowerment program as opposed to other villages, which had not been exposed to the program. Findings from this study provided evidence-based information to program planners seeking to empower women and discourage harmful traditional practices.

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Evaluation of Berhane Hewan: a program to delay child marriage in rural Ethiopia

Berhane Hewan, one of the first rigorously evaluated interventions to delay marriage in Sub-Saharan African, combined group formation, support for girls to remain in school and community awareness in rural Ethiopia. The program was a success, leading to considerable improvements in girls’ school enrollment, age at marriage, reproductive health knowledge and contraceptive use.

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Population Council Journals

Population and Development Review (founded in 1975) and Studies in Family Planning (1963) publish research that shapes understanding of critical issues in global development and transforms policies and programs around the world. The journals affirm the Council’s role as a thought leader across the broad field of population studies and affirm our commitment to publishing the best research on population, health, and development.

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Building Girls' Protective Assets: A Collection of Tools for Program Design

The collection contains tools and exercises to help programmers translate evidence on “what works” into girl-centered programming. The resources in this collection focus on programs that have been effective—through empowerment and the building of protective assets—in reducing girls’ risks and broadening their opportunities.

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Handbook for Family Planning Operations Research

This handbook was specifically designed to help health and family planning researchers develop and write a detailed operations research proposal. It has often been used in workshops as a guide for preparing a well-written and detailed research study proposal. It is also intended to help program administrators and managers understand the process of operations research and the uses of research findings for service delivery improvement.

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Designing HIV/AIDS Intervention Studies: An Operations Research Handbook

Designed to help HIV/AIDS researchers develop and write a detailed operations research proposal, this handbook provides a review of many key concepts and important methods essential for conducting HIV/AIDS field research studies. It has helped HIV/AIDS program administrators and managers as well as health policymakers understand the process of operations research and the uses of research findings to improve HIV/ AIDS service delivery.

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The Situation Analysis Approach to Assessing Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services: A Handbook

The Situation Analysis, a critical aspect of the Council’s groundbreaking work on improving the quality of care for family planning and reproductive health, provided a much-needed link between family planning managers and the client he or she tried to serve. The Analysis provides tools so that managers can efficiently administer reproductive health services with a patient-centered focus.

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What Evidence is Up Against

Quality evidence faces an uphill battle. It is not only a fundamental aspect of policymaking and programme design, it’s a social good. In the Lancet Global Health blog, Population Council President Julia Bunting writes, "Defending evidence isn’t just important – it’s a necessity."

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