Transforming Family Planning Services in the Latin American and Caribbean Region


  • Judith F. Helzner

    1. Judith F. Helzner is Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health, International Planned Parenthood Federation/ Western Hemisphere Region, 120 Wall Street, Ninth Floor, New York, NY 20005-3902. E-mail:
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The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo has generated widespread commitment to changing family planning programs from categorical and medically focused service organizations to reproductive health initiatives that embrace a wide range of social and human services. This article uses qualitative data analysis to review the experience of nine family planning association projects in the Latin American and Caribbean region that have made a successful organizational transition from services focused on family planning to a gender-based and sexual health approach. A conceptual framework is proposed, including factors external to the organization. Factors that can promote a pilot intervention's becoming fully institutionalized include: the need for commitment from high-level staff and members of the board of directors, the creation of partnerships with other agencies, and an emphasis on monitoring and evaluation. Lessons from this experience and their potential relevance to other settings are reviewed and discussed.