Unmet need for family planning
The percent with an unmet need for family planning is the number of women with unmet need for family planning expressed as a percentage of women of reproductive age who are married or in a union. Women with unmet need are those who are fecund and sexually active but are not using any method of contraception, and report not wanting any more children or wanting to delay the birth of their next child.
Method of computation
The majority of estimates of unmet need for family planning follow the procedure adopted in the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), which is regarded as the standard method of computation.
Data coverage and periodicity
The World Contraceptive Use 2010 contains data on unmet need for family planning for 107 countries or areas of the world, and for 75 countries and areas there are at least two available data points. The latest estimates are as of December 2010.
Addressing the unmet need for family planning of those who are most in need
Unmet need is especially high among groups such as:
- Urban slum dwellers
- Women in the postpartum period
Meeting the need for family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments to alleviate poverty and improve health.
Photo: India: Woman walking down street in slum with firewood for cooking on her head
Proposed activities to address this unmet need:
- Understanding the needs and perspectives of these groups.
- Testing interventions to expand access to and use of family planning methods.
Norms, tools and guidelines
- Developing appropriate indicators to measure unmet need for family planning.
- Developing or adapting guidelines on family planning for different population groups.
Country support and advocacy
- Supporting country initiatives to address the unmet need for family planning.
- Introducing "best practices" addressing unmet need, including integration and linkages, and financing for sustainability.
- Developing national capacity to strengthen health information systems to monitor trends and to evaluate programme efforts to address the unmet need.