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August 2, 2007

Experts from the World’s Leading Health Organizations Release New Consensus-Based Family Planning Handbook

Book to Address Vast Unmet Family Planning Needs in Developing Countries

Family planning is regaining priority status on health agendas throughout the developing world, driven largely by the unmet needs of millions of women and families. One significant aide in the effort to support and promote safe family planning comes in the form of a new handbook called, Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers.

Published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Communication Programs’ INFO Project, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the handbook brings together the best available scientific evidence on family planning methods and related topics into one easy-to-use publication. The book is a result of collaboration among 30 leading health organizations around the world.
Despite great progress over the last several decades, more than 100 million married women worldwide want to prevent pregnancy but are not using a contraceptive method. Reasons for this unmet need are numerous. Services and supplies are not yet available everywhere; therefore, contraceptive choices are limited. Fears of social disapproval regarding use of contraception or partner’s opposition to contraceptive use also pose formidable barriers.  Worries about side effects or lack of knowledge about contraceptive options also prevent many women from using contraception.

“People need help now,” says Paul F.A. Van Look, director of WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research. “The Global Handbook stands alone as the single most important, authoritative resource for family planning in the developing world. It will go a long way in helping to inform and instruct the correct applications of family planning methods.”

The handbook updates a previous book, The Essentials of Contraceptive Technology. First published in 1997 by the Center for Communication Programs, nearly one million copies of The Essentials of Contraceptive Technology have been published in over 10 languages. This book is used extensively by family planning providers in the developing world.

“This was a remarkable undertaking that WHO convened with 30 of the world’s leading health organizations,” said Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Pubic Health. “The handbook offers practical guidance to meet reproductive health needs of women at various stages during their child bearing years. It will provide invaluable service to those practitioners in reproductive health whether they are training health professionals or working with clients.”

As the fourth in WHO’s cornerstones of family planning guidance series, Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers offers technical information to help health care providers deliver family planning methods appropriately and effectively. Together, the four cornerstones support the safe and effective provision and use of family planning methods and can be used to develop national guidelines.

The handbook is currently available in an English edition both on-line and as a printed and bound publication. Translations are planned for 10 languages, including: Spanish, French, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (African), Romanian, Russian, Swahili, Arabic and Urdu.
All handbooks will be distributed with a free copy of “Do You Know Your Family Planning Choices?,” a wall chart summarizing key points for each contraceptive method that providers can display to clients.

Further information and instructions for ordering can be found at:

The INFO Project, based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs, envisions a world of interconnected communities where shared reproductive health information improves and saves lives. Our mission is to support health care decision-making in developing countries by providing global leadership in reproductive health knowledge management. The project receives support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

With representatives in more than 30 countries, The Center for Communication Programs (CCP) is a leader in the field of strategic, evidence-based, communication programs for behavior change to save lives, improve health, and enhance well-being in communities around the world. The Center is part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the oldest and best-ranked institution of its kind. CCP works with a variety of public and private sector partners to design, implement and evaluate strategic communication programs that address the world’s most pressing health concerns including HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, Malaria, Avian and Pandemic Influenza, Safe Water, Nutrition, and Infectious and Chronic Diseases. For more information visit:

Media contact for the Center for Communication Programs: Susan Gossling Walters at 410-659-6351 or
Public Affairs media contact for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or