Updating the Global Shared Agenda for Social and Behavior Change in Family Planning/Reproductive Health

It takes a village: A shared agenda for social and behavior change in family planning

Written by: Alison Pack, Program Officer, Breakthrough ACTION

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way many people work and live. When the pandemic struck, the global family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) community realized that if it wanted to continue to make progress towards our shared vision of universal access to FP/RH services and information, it must adapt—constantly. This means learning from experience to better prepare for future humanitarian crises and health emergencies. The community must also find ways to coordinate our action and investments in an ever-changing global landscape.

In 2021–2022, Breakthrough ACTION sought to refresh the Global Shared Agenda for Social and Behavior Change in Family Planning/Reproductive Health—first developed in 2019 to ensure coordinated efforts within the social and behavior change (SBC) for family planning (FP) community—so that it captures the learnings from SBC for FP/RH programming pivots that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. To do this, Breakthrough ACTION conducted a desk review of published and gray literature on SBC and FP/RH, administered an online survey of SBC for FP/RH practitioners, and hosted an expert consultation with over 40 participants from around the world. The information gathered helped Breakthrough ACTION determine whether the priorities set forth in the Shared Agenda were still relevant, given the COVID-19 context, and see if any other priorities emerged as a result of the pandemic.

The 2022 refresh process confirmed the continued relevance of the original five strategic priority areas in need of the most coordination and investment, namely:

  1. Improving SBC for service delivery.
  2. Fostering a supportive environment for FP/RH.
  3. Understanding and meeting the SRH needs of youth.
  4. Increasing coordinated investment in SBC for FP/RH.
  5. Focusing on SBC for FP/RH in francophone West Africa.

The refresh process also revealed five areas of improvement/opportunities. As such, the updated agenda includes greater guidance on:

  1. Developing and implementing gender transformative programming.
  2. Incorporating equity considerations.
  3. Building greater SBC programmatic and research capacity.
  4. Using digital health for SBC for FP/RH.
  5. Increasing private sector engagement.

Reaching global FP goals depends on extraordinary cooperation and collaboration across the FP/RH community. The Shared Agenda’s success—in other words, creating measurable positive transformation in the health priorities it identifies—depends upon everyone’s commitment and endorsement. This ensures its operationalization—individually and within networks—at the donor, government, and implementation levels, allowing everyone involved to harness the power of SBC for improved global FP/RH outcomes.

We invite stakeholders engaged in SBC, FP/RH, and service delivery to explore and endorse the updated Shared Agenda for SBC for FP/RH on the Breakthrough ACTION website. With your continued endorsement, collaboration, and coordination of SBC programs, we can surely realize our shared vision of universal access to FP/RH information and services.