Time for a new Roadmap for Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights

The Guttmacher-Lancet Commission releases its groundbreaking report for accelerating progress on sexual and reproductive health & rights for all

Guttmacher-Lancet Commission presents its new roadmap for SRHR

Issues of SRHR such as contraception, maternal and newborn health, safe abortion, gender-based violence, the prevention of HIV/STI’s and infertility lie at the heart of the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission´s new report. It defines thematic priorities and recommends a package of essential interventions that make the full set of SRHR a reality for all.

The time has come: After two years of intensive work, the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights has published its groundbreaking report on May 9, 2018, in the medical journal The Lancet!

Currently, 214 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for modern methods of contraception; more than 45 million women receive inadequate or no antenatal care. Worldwide, about 266,000 million women die from cervical cancer each year – deaths related to pregnancy count 308,000 cases per year. Worldwide, each year 25 million unsafe abortions take place and 1 in 3 women experience gender-based violence in the course of their live - often from an intimate partner.

“To advance health, we must advance rights! “

With its report, the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission calls on the global community to no longer tolerate these gaps and commit to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This requires a more holistic view on SRHR that fosters the right of each individual to make free decisions about their body. To this end, the Commission´s report outlines a new, comprehensive definition of SRHR that integrates the full range of people´s needs and services and is based on human rights. This includes components that countries typically focus on such as maternal and newborn health, family planning and HIV prevention, but also often-neglected issues such as comprehensive sexuality education, gender-based violence, safe abortion or the treatment of infertility and cervical cancer. Thus, the key message is that improving sexual and reproductive health depends on advancing sexual and reproductive rights.

ICPD revisited – new thematic priorities and recommended interventions

Almost 25 years after the Cairo Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was released, the report puts forth a new roadmap with thematic priorities that go beyond those of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Based on a thorough analysis of existing evidence such as global guidelines and technical publications, the report reflects on SRHR gaps in research and implementation by taking into account the distinct needs of vulnerable groups. These include adolescents aged ten to 19, people with disabilities, people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, sex workers and displaced people and refugees. On this basis, the report outlines thematic priorities and recommends a package of essential SRHR interventions for the implementation at the national, regional and global level that accelerate progress towards SRHR for all. These essential packages include access to comprehensive sexuality education, SRHR of men and their role in promoting the health and rights of women, the provision of SRHR services in context of crises, the promotion of an inclusive environment for gender-sensitive development and the incorporation of SRHR into frameworks that work towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Realizing SRHR is affordable and attainable for most countries

What is more, the Commission’s vision of universal access to SRHR is affordable for most countries, say the authors of the report. For example, meeting the needs for contraception, abortion, and maternal and newborn health care in developing regions would cost just $9 per person per year. Ann Starrs, President of the Guttmacher Institute and co-chair of the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission, concludes: “We have the means and the knowledge to achieve universal sexual and reproductive health and rights. Meaningful progress is possible, it is affordable and it is vital.”

The Commission

The US research and policy organisation Guttmacher Institute (GI) and the medical journal The Lancet convened the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission in 2016. It consists of 16 experts from across the world with multidisciplinary experience in a broad range of SRHR issues. The Commission is co-financed by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the project Global Alliances for the ICPD implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenabeit (GIZ) GmbH. The report titled Accelerate Progress: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights was released to representatives from politics, research and civil society on May 9, 2018 at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa.

A strong political signal: the report is accompanied by two joint commentaries from high-level experts welcoming the new SRHR roadmap. One of them from the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus with the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Natalia Kanem; the second from two Ministers of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole of Nigeria and Dr. Alejandro Gaviria Uribe of Colombia.

Further information

Lorena Führ
May 2018

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