Responding to Cairo

Case Studies of Changing Practice in Reproductive Health and Family Planning

Posted: 24 May 2002

Author: Nicola Haberland and Diana Measham
Population Council, New York, 2002, $23.00

This 462-page volume documents the global response to the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo. The ICPD Programme of Action called for population programmes to take a client-oriented approach to reproductive health and attend to issues of gender, sexuality, and empowerment.

The 22 case studies in Responding to Cairo show how a wide range of programmes from 18 countries have risen to this challenge.

Marking a growing global movement, the ICPD brought reproductive health and rights to the forefront of the international population agenda. Responding to Cairo adds a critical new dimension of analysis to the body of material documenting efforts to promote ICPD goals.

"Policies pronounced on the world stage are only as good as their implementation in the field," says Haberland. "These case studies show that strides have been made in expanding the scope of reproductive health care and increasing women's power in sexual relationships, interactions with health care providers, and communities. While much remains to be done to realize the Cairo vision, these case studies demonstrate that there are concrete, field-level experiments grappling with how best do this."

According to Haberland and Measham, important changes in policy and practice are taking place, notably the following:

  • Some population policies that impinged on individuals' rights and freedom of choice have been abolished or modified-including in India and China. Nonetheless, strong pressures to achieve demographic goals by promoting contraceptive use persist in some settings.
  • Sexuality is increasingly regarded as a legitimate part of reproductive health and is being incorporated into counseling and service delivery in some settings. However, underlying and deeply entrenched gender biases remain and a concerted effort will be required to address these ingrained obstacles to change.

  • A wider range of reproductive health needs is being addressed. Efforts to broaden the content of services have met with considerable success, often at low or no additional cost. However, technological gaps remain, including the lack of simple, low-cost methods to diagnose reproductive tract infections and female controlled methods of sexually transmitted infection prevention, such as microbicides.

  • The social and economic roots of women's reproductive health problems are increasingly recognized. They are even being grappled with in some settings: programmes that empower women as health care consumers, equal partners in sexual relationships, and community members are showing promising results.
The projects and programmes profiled in detail in this volume represent a rich body of experience that can help to provide direction, fresh ideas, and cautions as the field moves forward. "Many of these efforts are at the vanguard of change. Replicating and scaling up the approaches they embody is the key to meeting Cairo's goals," the editors conclude.

This book may be purchased at $23.00 per copy. Qualified developing-country professionals in the field of populationand development many request a single free copy. To order call (+1 212) 339 0514, Email: , or mail to Publications Office, Population Council, One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza New York, NY 10017, USA. For futher information, visit: www.popcouncil.org