Population Dynamics & Reproductive Health

Population, Reproductive Health and Poverty

The Center has developed a robust and multifaceted evidence base about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues, with special attention to young people. Our research has also provided understanding of what works to
increase uptake of modern contraceptives within high-fertility communities, and has informed debate around unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortion.

The Center has also generated evidence on drivers of sexual violence and contributed to innovations in how to address sexual violence among refugee populations. Our work is exploring how poor men express their masculinity as breadwinners with few options for employment, and how they might become champions in the global struggle for gender equality.

A deeper understanding of contexts, drivers, experiences and preferences for family planning remains. Understanding SRHR throughout the life course is critical to many health and development pathways, as is improved understanding of population dynamics and their implications for sustainable development: specifically, the realization of the demographic dividend.

There are four areas of inquiry in this Unit, aiming to promote sustainable population growth and improved sexual and reproductive health and rights across the life course:

The signature issue for the Unit will be young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). We will focus in particular on early adolescents (10-14 years) and those from marginalized communities, and the magnitude and impact of adverse SRH events on adolescent health and wellbeing. We will aim to clarify the contexts for comprehensive sexuality education, including SRHR/ FP counseling for adolescents. This program will also generate
evidence about what works to reach youth with safe, respectful and comprehensive SRHR information and services.

The second signature issue for this Unit will be unsafe abortion. We will aim to understand the contexts and dynamics of unsafe abortion, family planning, and contraceptive behaviors; deepen our understanding of the mortality and morbidity associated with unsafe abortion; and assess the impact of unsafe abortion prevention programs and barriers to quality post abortion care. We will contribute to knowledge on drivers, experiences and preferences among populations for the array of options for family planning, and illuminate pathways for optimizing the provision and sustainability of services, including financing and delivery options.

The third program of work will address gender and sexuality-related vulnerabilities. Assessing the magnitude and perceptions of gender-based violence will drive this programmatic area, including identification of where
men and boys might engage in promoting women’s SRHR. The program will also seek to clarify the origins and implications of gender ideologies and practices, including masculinity.

The Unit will spearhead efforts to contribute to the discourse around the Demographic Dividend. We will seek to understand population dynamics, including regional and intra-regional fertility, mortality and migration trends,
and their implications for sustainable development and how to position Africa to achieve the demographic dividend.

Featured Project

Maternal near-miss (MNM) due to unsafe abortion in Kenya

Program: Population Dynamics & Reproductive Health

The World Health Organization (WHO, 2009) defines a maternal near-miss (MNM) as “a woman who nearly died, but survived a complication that occurred during pregnancy, childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy.’’ Data on MNMs can be used to support improvements in maternal care and to improve understanding of the problems and obstacles related to women’s access and use of quality maternal care. The main goal of the study is to quantify the proportion of near misses that is due to unsafe abortion complications in Kenya.  The proposed study will also qualitatively explore the social and economic implications of maternal near misses among women who experience them. We will also investigate local women’s access and sources of medication abortion drugs, which have been reported as responsible for the reduction in the incidence of severe complications of unsafe abortion in Kenya.

This study will support efforts aimed at preventing morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortion and promoting the security of women’s access to quality sexual and reproductive health services. Nationally, family planning and women reproductive health are supported in Kenya’s new constitution and Vision 2030 plans, among other key policy documents.

The Kenya government has also declared its commitments to the FP2020 goal of ensuring women and girls’ rights and improved access to safe family planning and reproductive health services. To achieve these objectives the Kenyan government has pledged to invest further in family planning and contraception, improve the country’s contraceptive supply chain, and eliminate contraceptive stock-outs. Evidence from the MNM study will support efforts to realize the country’s aspirations and goals and inform public investments in women’s reproductive health.

Project Period: 

December 2015 – November 2017


Project Funders

  • hewlet



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