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Family Health International Awarded USAID 'Progress' Project to Improve Family Planning and Reproductive Health Programs in Developing Countries
Date:6/20/2008

USAID to Invest US $50 Million over a Five-Year Period to Improve Access and Availability to Family Planning

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., June 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that Family Health International (FHI) -- a global public health and development organization -- will lead a major family planning research project known as PROGRESS (Program Research for Strengthening Services).

The project will generate knowledge and awareness about family planning programs that can be adopted by health systems in developing countries. This initiative will focus on identifying the need for new or improved family planning methods for individuals and communities, providing increased access to contraceptive services, and strengthening the capabilities of health researchers -- and those in a position to apply new knowledge -- in developing countries. The goal is to improve the quality of reproductive health services by ensuring that programs around the world draw on the best available scientific evidence.

As the largest ever generation of young people enters their reproductive years, PROGRESS will play an important role in helping them reach their goals by making contraceptive methods more accessible and available. Some 150 million couples in the developing world say they would prefer to plan their births but are not currently using family planning. Ultimately, the aim of the project is to apply research to ensure longer, healthier lives for some of the world's poorest women and children.

USAID has pledged up to US $50 million to this project, to be allocated over a five-year period. To ensure that research addresses the issues that are most important to the people who need these services, FHI will collaborate with researchers, program managers, and policymakers in governmental and non-governmental agencies in a number of countries.

"Scientific research can help governments and public health organizations figure out what works," says Ward Cates, MD, MPH, President of Research at FHI. "The PROGRESS project encourages research that gives policymakers practical guidelines for things they can do to meet increasing demand and provide access to a variety of high quality family planning methods."

Project Director of PROGRESS, Maggwa Baker Ndugga, MD, MS, agrees. "This project provides us with an important opportunity to reposition family planning as a major focus of international public health research," he said. "One key goal is to improve the quality of reproductive health programs by implementing the best family planning research possible."

USAID and FHI will select a set of "focus countries" for PROGRESS in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America for greater emphasis, but the effects of the knowledge generated will be wide reaching.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the vast majority of maternal deaths could be prevented if women had access to quality family planning and reproductive health services. More than half a million women die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth every year, and approximately 10 million suffer related injury or infection.

The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 120 countries worldwide.

Family Health International: Family Health International (FHI) has been at the forefront of international public health initiatives since 1971. With a staff of 2,200 working in more than 65 countries, FHI manages innovative research and programs that address the most pressing health needs of the developing world -- HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment; reproductive health; malaria; tuberculosis; avian influenza as well as other chronic and infectious diseases. This work is made possible by our close partnerships with our funding partners, host-country governments, non-governmental organizations, research institutions and universities, community- and faith-based groups, and private-sector organizations.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Tae Crotty, Director of Communications, 703.516.9779 ext. 231 or media@fhi.org


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SOURCE Family Health International
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