News & Views

Council Commentary

A Recipe for Analyzing Fertility

I began my career with the Population Council in 1973, and in 2015 I retired as its president. One of the joys of working at the Council was being surrounded by public health and social science all-stars. Council researchers have changed the way the world thinks about important health and development issues and influenced policies and practice on family planning, the rights and health of girls, and population change. A highlight of my career has been seeing Population Council vice president and distinguished scholar John Bongaarts speak before standing-room-only-audiences in New York, New Delhi, and Addis Ababa. Like a small number of superstars in other professions, John can fill a hall in any of the world’s capital cities.

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Council Commentary

Population Council Mourns the Death of Family Planning Researcher Tapani Luukkainen

University of Helsinki researcher Tapani Luukkainen, who led the development of Mirena®, the highly effective levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (IUS) died on Monday, September 21. He was 86 years old.

Mirena was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2000 for contraception and later for the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding.

As a member of the Council’s International Committee for Contraception Research, Dr. Luukkainen also pioneered research to identify innovative contraceptive methods for men and women and strengthened the capacity of clinical research centers in developed and developing countries. He was a giant in the field of contraceptive R&D, a patient yet demanding mentor to many young professionals, and an inspiration for those who hope to make a difference in women's lives through their vision and the quality of their work.

“The Population Council honors Dr. Luukkainen’s contributions to improving the health of women around the world,” said John Townsend, vice president and director of the Population Council’s Reproductive Health program. “We join with the reproductive health and family planning communities in celebrating his accomplishments and mourning his passing.”

Council Commentary

Delivering Ideas, Evidence, and Solutions to Improve Lives

Since 1952, the Population Council has been changing the way the world thinks about critical health and development issues. Our biomedical, social science, and public health research in more than 50 countries tests ideas, generates evidence, and delivers solutions leading to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world.

The Council has a rich history. For more than 60 years, our data have driven decisionmaking. From the start we have given voice and visibility to the world’s most vulnerable people. We increase awareness of the problems they face and offer evidence-based solutions. Around the world, governments, civil society organizations, and international agencies seek our help to understand and overcome obstacles to improving health and promoting development. And we work with partners on every continent to use state-of-the-art biomedical science to develop new contraceptives and products to prevent the transmission of HIV

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Council Commentary

Investing in Young People in Egypt

Investing in Young People in Egypt

For decades, the Population Council has generated evidence about the lives of young people in Egypt. In 1997, we fielded the groundbreaking Adolescence and Social Change in Egypt survey, which interviewed more than 9,000 young people. In 2009, we built on that foundation with the Survey of Young People in Egypt (SYPE). Council interviewers spoke to a nationally representative sample of around 15,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 29 from 11,000 households—one of the largest surveys of young people in the Middle East and North Africa.

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Council Commentary

Population Council Mourns the Loss of Family Planning Champion Valerie DeFillipo

Over a career that spanned decades, Valerie was a true leader and champion for women’s and girls’ reproductive health and rights. As founding executive director of Family Planning 2020 and throughout her career, she worked to ensure that the initiative has flourished and grown into a dynamic global movement. The Population Council extends its condolences to Valerie’s family, friends, and colleagues. She will be greatly missed.

“Valerie’s energy, style, and willingness to engage made all the difference in many people’s lives, particularly those who found themselves most vulnerable and forgotten,” said John Townsend, vice president and director of the Population Council’s Reproductive Health program. “She will be remembered and celebrated.”   

More from FP2020: Family Planning 2020 Saddened by the Loss of Founding Executive Director Valerie DeFillipo  

Council Commentary

Multipurpose Prevention Technologies: The Future of HIV and STI Protection

Every day, more than 1 million people are newly infected with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can lead to morbidity, mortality, and an increased risk of HIV acquisition. Strategies including behavior change, condom promotion, and therapy have not reduced STIs worldwide, pointing to the need for novel approaches that prevent both HIV and STIs.

In a new paper published in Trends in Microbiology, the Population Council and partners explore the role of key STIs in increasing susceptibility to HIV; new biomedical prevention approaches including topical microbicides and multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs); and the scientific and regulatory hurdles that must be overcome to make combination HIV/STI prevention a reality.

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Council Commentary

New DHS Reports from Kenya and Zambia Point to Improving Maternal and Child Health

The most recent Demographic and Health Surveys from Kenya and Zambia show progress in health indicators—particularly in the areas of maternal and child health—and also suggest where more work is needed to ensure people can achieve their full potential.

In Kenya, more and more women are giving birth in health facilities (40% in 2003, 43% in 2008-09, 61% in 2014), and the percentage of women getting postnatal care in the first two days after birth has increased substantially (10% in 2003, 42% in 2008-09, 51% in 2014). In both Kenya and Zambia, increasing numbers of women are using contraception (Kenya: 39% in 2003, 46% in 2008-09, 58% in 2014; Zambia: 34% in 2001-02, 41% in 2007, 49% in 2013-14), indicating the prioritization of women’s health in these countries.

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