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Rights-Based Family Planning: Importance of Increased Access

This post is part of a monthly blog series profiling viewpoints from leaders in reproductive health who are members of the Bellagio Group on Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. The Bellagio Group is a coalition of experts who convene annually to discuss practices for expanding contraceptive choice and accelerating progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to reproductive health services. This post represents the views of the author and is not a representation of the Population Council or the Bellagio Group. Please direct any questions to the author at cfitzgerald@womancareglobal.org.

Two weeks ago, I observed a focus group in Lusaka, Zambia, where a moderator from a South African marketing agency spoke with eight young women about their views on contraception. Joined by a local researcher, a program manager, and marketers, I watched the session next door through a live television feed. Our goal was to get a head start on the development of marketing strategies for new contraceptive products—a project funded by USAID. In that small room in the Lusaka office building, we huddled around the television listening to these women’s opinions about different contraceptive options, hoping to understand how they make decisions about which methods to use and how the public health community can better meet their needs.

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Press Releases

Population Council to Present New Research on Key Populations at International AIDS Conference

Findings Will Highlight Risk Factors, Strategies to Improve Service Delivery for Men Who Have Sex with Men, People Who Inject Drugs, and Women

NEW YORK (15 July 2014) — The Population Council will present new research on HIV and key populations at the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS2014) in Melbourne, Australia, 20–25 July 2014.

Oral presentations will focus on the HIV risk behaviors of men who have sex with men, the scale-up and sustainability of community-led HIV responses developed for key affected populations, and promoting gender equity among women. 

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Press Releases

New Review Documents What HIV Programs Work for Adolescent Girls

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — While all youth face vulnerability to HIV, adolescent girls face unique challenges in reducing their risk of acquiring HIV due to gender inequalities, but much HIV programming lacks a specific focus on girls and young women. Many of the countries with the highest HIV prevalence are experiencing a massive “youth bulge” in population, so even with decreasing HIV prevalence, the absolute number of young people living with HIV or at risk of acquiring HIV is estimated to grow in the next five years. Young women are especially vulnerable to HIV and have HIV infection rates nearly twice as high as those for young men. At the end of 2012, approximately two-thirds of new HIV infections in adolescents aged 15–19 years were among girls. An AIDS-free generation is not possible without addressing the specific needs of adolescents—especially girls—that put them at risk for HIV acquisition.

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Media Coverage

Displaced by Climate Change in Bangladesh

Rising sea levels due to climate change will displace millions of people over the next century. Considered one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change due to multiple factors—including population density, poverty, and topography—Bangladesh offers a preview of a hotter, crowded world forced to deal with climate disruption. A new article in Foreign Policy by Kenneth Weiss describes the country’s struggle.

Council Commentary

Focusing on Young People

The largest-ever generation of young people aged 15–24 is now making the transition from childhood to adulthood. Most of them—around 90%—live in developing countries, mostly in Asia and Africa. Achieving urgent global health and development goals will be impossible without determining their needs—particularly those of girls—and setting them on the path to a successful, productive adulthood.

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Council Commentary

Population Council Hosts UK Secretary of State in Zambia

Population Council Hosts UK Secretary of State in Zambia
Photo credit: Natalie Jackson/Population Council

On Wednesday, July 9th, the Right Honorable Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, visited with girls participating in the Population Council’s Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program (AGEP). AGEP is designed to find the best ways to improve girls’ social, health, and economic resources so that they can stay in school longer; avoid early marriage; delay sexual activity; and prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV, and other STIs. The project is led and being evaluated by the Population Council.

Later in the day, the Secretary of State delivered the keynote speech at Zambia’s regional symposium on ending child marriage. In her speech, she pledged UK support to lead international efforts to end child marriage within a generation.

The Council’s Ethiopia country director Annabel Erulkar is presenting at the symposium, which is taking place in advance of the UK’s Girl Summit 2014 in London on July 22nd.

Press Releases

New Study from Population and Development Review Finds Flaws in Mortality Projections in Low-Mortality Countries; Pension and Health Costs May Be Higher than Estimated

"Trends in Causes of Death in Low-Mortality Countries: Implications for Mortality Projections," by John Bongaarts

NEW YORK (30 June 2014) — A new study by demographer John Bongaarts, Population Council Vice President and Distinguished Scholar, has found that mortality projections from most low-mortality countries are more pessimistic than they should be. The reason for this flaw is that existing projections fail to recognize that fewer people smoke today than used to. As a result, there will be a future decline in smoking-related mortality. This suggests that with more people living longer, pension and health care costs in coming decades will likely be higher than previously estimated.

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Press Releases

Global Family Planning, Climate, and Investment Experts Join Population Council Board of Trustees

NEW YORK (25 June 2014) — The Population Council announces the appointment of three new board members: Marc Saiontz, managing director at American Securities; Theo Spencer, senior advocate in the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council; and Amy Ong Tsui, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and senior scholar at the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health.

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Press Releases

Studies in Family Planning Publishes Special Issue on Unmet Need

June Issue Explores Challenges in Addressing Unmet Need for Contraception, Featuring Research and Case Studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America

NEW YORK (16 June 2014) — Studies in Family Planning, a leading journal published by the Population Council, released “Unmet Need for Family Planning”—a special issue featuring ten articles, including a comprehensive introduction to the topic of unmet need. Distinguished researchers explore trends related to unmet need for contraception, and many articles point to practical strategies for increasing contraceptive knowledge and uptake, and for overcoming barriers that prevent women from practicing contraception.

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Media Coverage

Female Health Workers Boost Family Planning in Bangladesh

In Matlab, Bangladesh in the 1970s, an experiment that used female community health workers to provide doorstep delivery of family planning services led to dramatic improvements in maternal and child health, increased contraceptive use, and a rapid decline in fertility. The program was so successful that it was expanded across the country, with extensive technical assistance and support from the Population Council.

"Matlab showed us the way," says Ubaidur Rob, the Council’s Bangladesh country director, in a new Guardian article by Kenneth Weiss that details the success and scale-up of the Matlab project.