At the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, we believe that access to family planning is critical to solving many of the world’s most pressing health problems. Our roots as an organization are in developing evidence-based ways to address barriers to family planning to increase access to the people who need it most. We do this by addressing social norms, making conversations about family planning more acceptable in homes and communities, improving attitudes toward modern contraception, communicating the most up-to-date information on family planning – whatever it takes to make change.
When families use modern contraception methods, they are empowered to determine the timing, number and spacing of their children, reducing deaths and improving the health of both mothers and their babies. Family planning – and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples – is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and development of families and communities.
The work isn’t easy. In many cultures, even discussing modern contraception is off-limits. We partner with governments, religious leaders, clinics and more to shift that mindset and help increase demand for family planning. Through exhaustive research and lasting relationships, we have spearheaded socially acceptable reproductive health initiatives in many countries around the world. We help erase fears about the side effects of long-acting modern contraception such as implants and IUDs. We help couples talk to one another about their options. And we put the latest family planning information and educational materials in the hands of health workers, while advocating for funding and policy improvements.
Successes are many. We work in two dozen countries around the world to increase the adoption of modern contraception. For example, over the course of four years in six urban centers in Nigeria, for example, the rate of women of childbearing age using contraception increased by an average of 10 percentage points while more than 350,000 additional families are now using modern family planning methods in those cities.