Course: Family Planning Policies and Programs

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This course is intended for persons interested in policies, programs, and issues in population and reproductive health in developing countries.

Course Description

Introduces issues and programmatic strategies related to the development, organization, and management of family planning programs, especially those in developing countries. Topics include social, economic, health, and human rights rationale for family planning; identifying and measuring populations in need of family planning services; social, cultural, political, and ethical barriers; contraceptive methods and their programmatic requirements; strategic alternatives, including integrated and vertical programs and public and private sector services; information, education, and communication strategies; management information systems; and the use of computer models for program design.

Course Objectives

Students completing this course will be able to:

- Characterize different contraceptive technologies in terms of their service delivery requirements and their appropriateness for different stages in the reproductive cycle;
- compute the Bongaarts intermediate fertility variables and assess how they relate to the level of fertility observed in a population;
- analyze contraceptive technologies and service delivery programs from a user perspective;
- specify key elements that characterize a high quality service delivery program;
- evaluate the role of incentives and disincentives in a family planning program;
- discuss the pros and cons of integrated versus vertical family planning and reproductive health service delivery programs;
- explain the rationale for cost-recovery in family planning and the observed relationships between price and use of contraceptives;
- assess the roles of the private sector and social marketing in a family planning program strategy;
- formulate a multifaceted program strategy designed to effectively address that segment of the population with an unmet need for contraception;
- appreciate the ethical issues and human rights concerns that are raised by family planning programs.


There are no prerequisites for this course.


There is no textbook. All lecture notes, slide presentations and required readings will be available to students electronically.

Course Topics

Among the topics covered in this course are:

Bongaarts Intermediate Fertility Variables
Unmet Need for Family Planning
Unwanted Fertility and Induced Abortion
Quality of Care and Medical Barriers to Contraceptive Services
Couples and Men in Contraceptive Decision Making
Community Based Contraceptive Distribution
Paying for Family Planning: Cost Recovery and Social Marketing
Incentives and Disincentives in Family Planning Programs
Integration of Family Planning with Health Programs
Ethical Issues in Family Planning and Population Policy

Grading Policy

Evaluation is based on individual and group participation, including individual written assignments and a final group project and presentation. The grading in this course will be based on the following weights:

Two individual papers - 50%
Group report with presentation - 50%