The job of family planning remains unfinished. Despite great progress over the last several decades, more than 120 million women worldwide want to prevent pregnancy, but they and their partners are not using contraception. Reasons for unmet need are many: Services and supplies are not yet available everywhere or choices are limited. Fear of social disapproval or partner’s opposition pose formidable barriers. Worries of side effects and health concerns hold some people back; others lack knowledge about contraceptive options and their use. These people need help now.

Millions more are using family planning to avoid pregnancy but fail, for a variety of reasons. They may not have received clear instructions on how to use the method properly, could not get a method better suited to them, were not properly prepared for side effects, or supplies ran out. These people need better help now.

Moreover, the job of family planning will never be finished. In the next 5 years about 60 million girls and boys will reach sexual maturity. Generation after generation, there will always be people needing family planning and other health care.

While current challenges to health throughout the world are many and serious, the need to control one’s own fertility probably touches more lives than any other health issue. It is crucial to people's well-being, particularly that of women—and fundamental to their self-determination.

How can this book help? By enabling health care providers to give better care to more people. In a straightforward, easily used way, this book translates scientific evidence into practical guidance on all major contraceptive methods. This guidance reflects the consensus of experts from the world's leading health organizations. With this book in hand, a provider can confidently serve clients with many different needs and knowledgeably offer a wide range of methods.

The World Health Organization (WHO) appreciates the many contributions to this book made by people from around the world. The collaboration to develop, by consensus, an evidence-based book of this scope and depth is a remarkable achievement. WHO would like to thank particularly the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs for its invaluable partnership in the preparation of this book. WHO also appreciates the commitment of the many organizations—United Nations agencies, members of the Implementing Best Practices Consortium, and many others—that are adopting this handbook and disseminating it to health care providers throughout the world with the financial support of a wide range of government agencies and other development partners. These concerted efforts attest that the job of improving the world's health lies in good hands.

Paul F.A. Van Look, MD PhD FRCOG
Former Director, Department of Reproductive Health and Research
World Health Organization

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