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Political, Social, Cultural and Economic Context
  Estimation and Projection Package (EPP)
  Policy Environment Score (PES)
  Expanded Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) PES module
  AIDS Program Effort Index (API)
  Maternal and Neonatal Program Effort Index (MNPI)
  Human Rights Approach
  Demographic Health Survey
  Gender Analysis
  Networking for Policy Change: An Advocacy Training Manual
  Focus Project Youth Friendly RHS section
  Strategic Pathway to Reproductive Health Commodity Security (SPARCHS)
  Checklist for Determining Priority Operational Barriers to be Addressed
  What Works series of modules
  A Framework To Identify Gender Indicators For Reproductive Health and Nutrition Programming
People and Places
Price Tag
Programs and Performance
Gender Lens
Human Rights Lens
Adolescent Lens
Policy Circle Paper


The Policy Circle begins with the problem that needs to be addressed through policy. Although policies are not always evidence-based, analysis of information is a key aspect of all of the “Ps” of the policy circle, beginning with problem identification. Problems can be identified through various means, but usually involve data to show that some issue is a problem, for example, that maternal mortality is too high, the contraceptive prevalence rate has stalled, teen pregnancy is rising, current laws hamper the importation of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, or people living with HIV/AIDS are facing stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

Effective presentation of technical evidence should provide the underpinning of any effort to change policy—to measure the extent of the problem and to suggest feasible and cost-effective policy responses. Donor organizations, particularly USAID, have long supported collection of population, health, and, more recently, HIV/AIDS data that has been crucial for bringing family planning, maternal health, and HIV/AIDS issues to the attention of policymakers.

Policy projects begun in the 1970s, such as RAPID (Resources for the Awareness of Population Impacts on Development), have proved highly successful in convincing policymakers of the importance of addressing population growth in their countries. For example, since 2001, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has relied in large part on information on reproductive health and development that is derived from the RAPID Model for his public statements, such as to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in May 2002, when he used projections generated by the RAPID Model to state the need for attention to “ensuring child health and nutrition; lowering the infant mortality rate; ensuring universal schooling for children of primary school age; safe motherhood; and child spacing and family planning” (POLICY Project results database, 2003).

Data on incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDS and the enormous impact of HIV on individuals and countries played an important role in convincing policymakers worldwide that the problem must be tackled through various policy responses. For example, results of the AIDS Impact Model (AIM) application in Mozambique were incorporated into the Ministry of Education HIV/AIDS Impact Assessment, published in 2000 (POLICY Project results database, 2003).

Often, multiple policies will need to be created or reformed to solve a given problem. Identifying these types of needs also occurs during problem definition. Sometimes, additional data will be needed to clarify a perceived problem before it can be addressed through policy. In Ukraine, a policy development group identified a number of issues that impeded implementation of the 2001–2005 National Reproductive Health Program. Some issues were sufficiently clear to develop policies, while others, including a number of questions about the efficiency of the health system, needed further study (Mostipan et al., 2004). A complex problem, which requires multiple policies to address it, will also need multiple data sources to support it.