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Ann Med. 1993 Feb;25(1):57-60.

Study and introduction of family planning methods in developing countries.

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  • 1Family Health International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709.


Research in developing countries is essential for the evaluation of the safety, efficacy and acceptability of both new and already available contraceptives. Research conducted by scientists in developing countries has also played an essential role in the development of new contraceptives. The continuous delivery of progestin at a low dose, copper IUDs, contraceptive implants, monthly injectables and vaginal rings are examples of new methods developed with the input of research conducted largely in developing countries. When research in developing countries is funded or coordinated by international agencies, local scientists have to be involved not only in its implementation, but in the planning, analysis and dissemination of such research. The World Health Organization, the Population Council and Family Health International have played an important role in supporting collaborative studies for the development, introduction and evaluation of family planning methods in developing countries.


A key element of international support for family planning programs in developing countries is research in the development, evaluation, and introduction of family planning methods and services. These countries have the capacity to do high quality contraceptive research (from early preclinical research to phase III clinical trials). 3 international organizations are leaders in collaborating with researchers in developing countries to develop and support a network of clinical research centers in family planning. USAID assists 2 of these organizations because of its interest in family planning research: The Population Council and Family Health International. The Population Council's chief goal is the development and introduction of new contraceptive modalities. The Council developed Norplant, the sole new contraceptive approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in recent years. The International Committee for Contraceptive Research (ICCR) implements most of the Council's development program. ICCR consists of a group of research clinics and laboratories in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Finland, France, India, and the US. It is responsible for the development of 3 Copper-T IUDs and a levonorgestrel-releasing IUD. Family Health International conducts evaluation of family planning programs, epidemiological research in reproductive health, and clinical trials. WHO's Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction is the other major player in family planning research in developing countries, specifically, assessment of contraceptive safety and efficacy, development of new contraceptives, and infertility. WHO and the Rockefeller Foundation have established a South to South collaboration in research to promote cooperation between developing countries. National and international agencies need to further develop and maintain these various international efforts.

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