IUSSP Seminar on Promoting Postpartum and Post-abortion Family Planning: Challenges and Opportunities

Cochin, India, 11-13 November 2014 

Organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Reproductive Health

  • Chair: Iqbal Shah (Harvard School of Public Health)
  • Members: John Cleland (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - LSHTM); Sarah Harbison (USAID); Ondina Fachel Leal (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul); K.G. Santhya (Population Council); Eliya Zulu (African Institute for Development Policy - AFIDEP)


An estimated 222 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception. Given the impetus provided by Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) to enable 120 million more women and girls to access modern contraceptives by 2020, there is an urgent need to identify women in need, better understand the obstacles they face in accessing contraceptive methods, and recommend actions to accelerate the expansion of contraceptive use among them. Among women and girls with an unmet need for family planning are those who have recently given birth or undergone an abortion. Yet, in many settings, women are not using any contraceptive methods during this period, and the reasons for this low use are not well understood. At the same time, effective postpartum family planning programmes are lacking, and the provision of post-abortion family planning (PAFP) services has been seriously neglected in several countries in the developing world. Despite their strategic importance, topics related to postpartum and post-abortion family planning have received relatively little attention.


Against this background, the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Reproductive Health, in collaboration with the Population Council, India, and the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization held an International Seminar on Promoting Postpartum and Post-abortion Family Planning – Challenges and Opportunities, in Cochin, India, 11-13 November 2014.




The seminar brought together 24 scientists, policy makers, and programme managers to present and discuss a range of issues relating to postpartum and post-abortion family planning. A total of 18 papers were presented, including one paper that provided an overview of the evidence base on postpartum and post-abortion family planning in developing countries.




The papers presented at the seminar sought to answer several key questions pertaining to postpartum and post-abortion contraception, including:

(1) How to measure unmet need for contraception in the postpartum period and what is its magnitude?

(2) Is unmet need for contraception in the postpartum period higher than at other times in women’s reproductive life?

(3) What is the optimal time for postpartum contraceptive uptake?

(4) What is the extent of postpartum and post-abortion contraceptive uptake?

(5) What methods are used by women who initiate contraception post-partum or post-abortion?

(6) What is the method use continuation rate among women who initiate postpartum or post-abortion?

(7) What are some of the barriers to improving postpartum and post-abortion contraceptive uptake and strategies to overcome those?

(8) What types of intervention have had most impact on postpartum contraceptive uptake?


The full seminar report posted on the IUSSP website describes how seminar participants sought to answer these questions and point to a certain number of policy implications and the remaining research gaps. IUSSP members can also access the original seminar working papers. 



 The seminar report, programme and participant list.

 The Working Papers


Publication Plan: A selection of papers has been submitted for publication as a special issue of Studies in Family Planning.


Funding: Financial support for seminar was provided by the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization; the Wellcome Trust; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; and the Strengthening Evidence for Programming on Unintended Pregnancy (STEP UP) Research Program Consortium, Population Council.