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Focus on Family Planning

Focus on Family Planning: Susan Packard Orr

Susan Packard Orr

The School's Gates Institute hosts Bill Gates Sr. to celebrate 15 years of research, education and advocacy.


When the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health was established in 1999 as a partnership with the Bloomberg School, family planning issues had nearly disappeared from the global health agenda.

On the occasion of the Institute’s 15th anniversary at a May 21 celebration at the School, William H. Gates Sr. recalled the discussions with faculty that opened his eyes to the urgent family planning needs in the developing world.

“We wanted to know about the biggest inequalities in the world and what was being done to address them … so we sought advice from experts at Johns Hopkins, who had a longstanding commitment to improve lives on a grand scale and a reputation for rigor and excellence,” Gates told the assembled Institute faculty, partners and supporters.

He cited some of the Institute’s key accomplishments in its work to advance research and educate leaders and advocates on behalf of global equality in family planning.

These include the training of 1,000 Gates Institute Scholars in 30 countries; the establishing of 7 academic research centers in 6 countries; and the publication of 365 studies by Institute faculty.

“Institute graduates are putting this issue back on top of the global health agenda,” Gates said. “It gives me so much hope that future generations will be better equipped to reach the goal of universal and voluntary access to family planning.”

Susan Packard Orr, chair of the Board of Trustees for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, also delivered a keynote at the event, emphasizing the necessity of  listening to those most in need of services.

“Be guided by the voices of women and girls so that our efforts are informed by their needs, concerns and aspirations,” Orr said.