In recent decades, there have been tremendous advances in the development of safer and more effective contraceptives, and in the provision of affordable and accessible family planning services. Yet, still millions of individuals and couples around the world are unable to plan their families as they wish. It is estimated that over 120 million couples do not use contraceptives, despite wanting to space or limit their childbearing. In addition, many women who use contraceptives nevertheless become pregnant. Other couples who want to have children are unable to conceive.
Some of the causes of unmet need for family planning services are:
(i) lack of services or barriers to their access;
(ii) poor quality of services, such as suboptimal interactions between clients and providers, substandard technical competence of providers, inadequate information, poor design and management of service delivery systems;
(iii) technology issues, such as limited or inappropriate choice of methods and fear, or experience, of side effects; and
(iv) broader social issues, such as an individual’s lack of knowledge, power imbalances within couples and families, and sociocultural, religious and gender barriers.
In seeking to ensure that the maximum number of people are able to access the services they need, the Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) focuses on four objectives:
(i) to increase the availability of high-quality services;
(ii) to broaden the range of safe, effective, acceptable and affordable family planning and infertility technologies and interventions that is available to all women and men;
(iii) to strengthen the capacity of national health systems to ensure the availability of high-quality and sustainable family planning programmes and services in resource-poor settings; and
(iv) to promote an environment at international level that is supportive of family planning