USAID Awards $19.8M to Georgetown’s Institute for Reproductive Health

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Population and Reproductive Health has awarded $19.8 million to the Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) at Georgetown University Medical Center to fund the Fertility Awareness for Community Transformation (FACT) Project. The five-year project aims to improve fertility awareness and expand family planning access in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

IRH will lead a team of global health experts to implement this project, including those from the International Center for Research on Women, Population Media Center and Save the Children.

In developing countries, a woman’s lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy and childbirth is 1 in 75, nearly 100 times higher than the risk in developed countries. An estimated 220 million women have an unmet need for family planning — they are not using any method and report that they want to avoid pregnancy.

IRH director Victoria Jennings, PhD, says providing these women with appropriate family planning options not only saves lives but improves other social, educational, environmental and economic indicators.

“Every woman, man, girl and boy deserve accurate and appropriate sexual and reproductive health information to equip them for healthy decision making. Fertility awareness consists of communicating actionable, life-course-appropriate information about fertility, and enabling people to apply this knowledge to their own circumstances and needs,” Jennings says.

As part of the project, IRH also will measure whether expanding access to fertility awareness-based methods allows for greater uptake of family planning and reduces unintended pregnancies.

“The research will provide empirical evidence on the potential benefits of greater understanding among women and men of the way their reproductive systems function,” says Rebecka Lundgen, IRH research director. “Our work will result in tested strategies to increase fertility awareness at the community level — thus creating an enabling environment for women and men to take actions to protect their reproductive health.”

Through the FACT Project, IRH is building on nearly three decades of experience in designing, implementing and conducting research to the effect of developing evidence-based programs that address critical needs in sexual and reproductive health. Over the past 28 years, IRH has been awarded approximately $150 million in grants to implement health and development projects. 

“Under Victoria Jennings’ leadership, IRH has demonstrated critical contributions in creating receptive environments within communities around the world so they can embrace evidence-based reproductive health programs,” says Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD, executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center and executive dean of its School of Medicine. “These programs make a significant impact not only on individuals, but entire communities. We’re proud that IRH is one of many groups making a global impact by addressing this challenge.”

IRH will manage and coordinate the project and apply its expertise in implementation science to ensure that interventions address real needs, are feasible to implement at scale and are effective in achieving positive reproductive health outcomes. 

About the Institute for Reproductive Health
The Institute for Reproductive Health is dedicated to expanding family planning choices to meet the needs of women and men worldwide; advancing gender equality by helping women and men across the lifecycle learn about and take charge of their reproductive health; and involving communities in reproductive health interventions that improve their wellbeing. As part of Georgetown University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Institute conducts research to develop fertility awareness-based methods of family planning and tests them in diverse service delivery settings.

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.