WHO adopts first global strategy on reproduction health

Posted: 26 May 2004

The World Health Organization, (WHO) has adopted its first strategy on reproductive health. The strategy was adopted at the 57th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The new strategy targets five priority aspects of reproductive and sexual health, including:

Improving antenatal, delivery, postpartum and newborn care; providing high-quality services for family planning, including infertility services; eliminating unsafe abortion; combating sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV reproductive tract infections, cervical cancer and other gynaecological morbidities; and promoting sexual health.

WHO calculates that reproductive and sexual ill-health accounts for 20 per cent of the global burden of ill-health for women, and 14 per cent for men. The agency estimates that eight million of the estimated 210 million women who become pregnant each year, suffer life-threatening complications related to pregnancy and many experiencing long-term morbidities and disabilities. In 2000, an estimated 529,000 women died during pregnancy and childbirth from largely preventable causes.

Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director-General of Family and Community Health at WHO told the Pan African News Agency:

"Unsafe sex is one of the biggest risks to our health today, largely as a result of acquiring STIs, such as HIV/AIDS...It is fundamental to the social and economic development of communities, economies and nations."

The strategy was devised in response to a 55th WHA resolution requesting WHO to develop a strategy for accelerating progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other international goals and targets relating to improving reproductive health, notably those from the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, and its five year follow-up (ICPD+5).

Three of the eight MDGs are directly related to reproductive and sexual health, namely, improving maternal health, reducing child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution on the Family and Health in the context of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family.

The resolution acknowledges that active participation of families and communities in promoting and protecting their own health has proved to be effective and that families and communities who are thus empowered show an increased awareness and a higher demand for good quality health services.

Sources: IPPF and Panafrican News Agency (22/May/04)