Three decades of population policies and programs

January 12, 2008 • Daily Email Recap

A short three decades ago, it appeared that the “population bomb” would undermine efforts at development in the Third World and that little could be done about it. This book takes the reader back to the first efforts by 23 countries to hammer out novel policy positions and field programs to deal with the threat. These touched on the daily habits and entrenched values of ordinary people, and there was no “textbook” for guidance.

Few public programs had attempted to reduce excessive fertility and provide contraceptive means to whole populations, certainly none on the scale and with the urgency required. The 23 cases of the early family planning efforts tell the story. Their successes were original and so were their failures. These essays, one for each country, recount the experience as experienced by the men and women who actually led the efforts. It provides a unique look inside the programs.

These cases offer valuable guidance to other health-related policy objectives that are now emerging. The rise of new bacterial and viral threats (HIV-AIDS and others) make it clear that new health services and program interventions into human behavior will continue to be vital. Even though the problems differ, the organizational structures and behavior-modification campaigns needed can learn much from the pioneering efforts at reducing fertility.

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