Since 1972, the Family Planning Effort Index has measured national family planning program activities in developing countries and provided a longitudinal perspective on a standardized set of program characteristics.
In 2014, experts in 90 developing countries assessed national family planning program effort in four main component areas—policies, services, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, and access to methods—using a standardized questionnaire. Results were compared with previous years’ data.
Globally, family planning program effort has progressed in all four main component areas. The service component, historically the weakest, was rated lowest of all components in 2014, at 47% of the maximum effort, despite a marked improvement of 7.6 percentage points since 1999. Policies, generally the strongest component, remained the strongest in 2014, with 55% of the maximum score and a 6.7 percentage-point improvement since 1999. Monitoring and evaluation improved the most, by 7.8 percentage points, from 45% to 53%, while access improved more modestly, by 2.7 points, from 49% to 52%. Family planning efforts were generally strongest in Asia and Oceania and generally weakest in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
Global family planning programs have improved consistently over the last few decades, although there is room for further development in all regions.
Bernice Kuang is demographer and Isabel Brodsky is technical advisor, both at Palladium, Washington, DC.