World Health Organization's 4 Cornerstones of Family Planning Guidance

This handbook is one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 4 cornerstones of family planning guidance. Together, the 4 cornerstones support the safe and effective provision and use of family planning methods.

The first 2 cornerstones provide policy-makers and program managers with recommendations that can be used to establish or update national guidelines and program policies. The Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (4th edition, 2010) provides guidance on whether people with certain medical conditions can safely and effectively use specific contraceptive methods. The Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use (2nd edition, 2005) and the Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use: 2008 Update answer specific questions about how to use various contraceptive methods. Both sets of guidance come from expert Working Group meetings convened by WHO.

The third cornerstone, the Decision-Making Tool for Family Planning Clients and Providers, incorporates the guidance of the first 2 cornerstones and reflects evidence on how best to meet clients' family planning needs. It is intended for use during counseling. The tool leads the provider and client through a structured yet tailored process that facilitates choosing and using a family planning method. The Decision-Making Tool also helps to guide return visits.

As the fourth cornerstone, Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers offers technical information to help health care providers deliver family planning methods appropriately and effectively. A thorough reference guide, the handbook provides specific guidance on 20 family planning methods and addresses many of providers' different needs, from correcting misunderstandings to managing side effects. Like the Decision-Making Tool, this handbook incorporates the guidance of the first 2 cornerstones. It also covers related health issues that may arise in the context of family planning.

The 4 cornerstones can be found on the WHO Web site at http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/family_planning/. The handbook can also be found on the Knowledge for Health Project Web site at http://www.fphandbook.org. Updates to the handbook and news about translations are posted on these Web sites. See How to Obtain More Copies of This Book for information on ordering printed copies.

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