BACKGROUND ISSUES

Barbara Boyle Torrey welcomed the participants to the meeting on behalf of the National Research Council. She underscored the importance of the meeting by acknowledging the value of information systems and evaluations when economic constraints and needs for social programs coincide, a situation that exists currently in the United States. She noted that evaluations enable policy makers to learn how to achieve program goals as efficiently as possible.

Amy Tsui also welcomed the participants and explained some of the background issues that provided the incentive for having an expert meeting on information systems and program evaluation. She emphasized that, especially during this time of scarce resources on the part of international donor agencies and developing country governments, the evaluation of the effectiveness of family planning programs in promoting contraceptive use and lowering fertility is extremely important. Family planning programs have become more and more diverse--for example, by operating through clinics, government field workers, and private pharmacies--but the information systems and methods to evaluate their effectiveness have not kept pace. Evaluation efforts were initially based on program service statistics and occasional survey data, allowing a focus on program performance. These initial data collection efforts have given way to population-based surveys that have emphasized assessing the demand for and practice of contraception. Although these surveys do provide important



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INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND MEASUREMENT FOR ASSESSING PROGRAM EFFECTS: IMPLICATIONS FOR FAMILY PLANNING PROGRAMS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: SUMMARY OF AN EXPERT MEETING BACKGROUND ISSUES Barbara Boyle Torrey welcomed the participants to the meeting on behalf of the National Research Council. She underscored the importance of the meeting by acknowledging the value of information systems and evaluations when economic constraints and needs for social programs coincide, a situation that exists currently in the United States. She noted that evaluations enable policy makers to learn how to achieve program goals as efficiently as possible. Amy Tsui also welcomed the participants and explained some of the background issues that provided the incentive for having an expert meeting on information systems and program evaluation. She emphasized that, especially during this time of scarce resources on the part of international donor agencies and developing country governments, the evaluation of the effectiveness of family planning programs in promoting contraceptive use and lowering fertility is extremely important. Family planning programs have become more and more diverse--for example, by operating through clinics, government field workers, and private pharmacies--but the information systems and methods to evaluate their effectiveness have not kept pace. Evaluation efforts were initially based on program service statistics and occasional survey data, allowing a focus on program performance. These initial data collection efforts have given way to population-based surveys that have emphasized assessing the demand for and practice of contraception. Although these surveys do provide important