INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS – To Achieve Development Goals, Advance Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 

In a new comment published in The Lancet, experts Ann Starrs, Alex Ezeh, Gilda Sedgh and Susheela Singh outline the collective work needed to advance sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for all by 2030. Drawing on a vision and recommendations made five years ago by the Guttmacher–Lancet Commission, the comment reiterates the need for universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and the significant contributions of SRHR to economic growth, poverty eradication, gains in education, reduced inequalities and environmental sustainability.

The authors of the comment noted that there have been some impressive signs of progress in SRHR since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015; for example, the adolescent birth rate declined by 13% globally. However, progress in many areas has stalled: The global level of maternal mortality has barely changed since 2015 and has even increased in some high-income countries. The authors point out that “all too often, the politicization of sex, gender and reproduction get in the way of progress.”

The authors call on all countries to “integrate SRH services into their universal health coverage plans and budgets” and advocate including the following essential package of SRH services, recommended by the Guttmacher–Lancet Commission:

-Comprehensive sexuality education

-Counselling and services for a range of modern contraceptives, with a defined minimum number and types of methods

-Antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care, including emergency obstetric and newborn care

-Safe abortion services and treatment of complications of unsafe abortions

-Prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections

-Prevention, detection, immediate services and referrals for cases of sexual and gender-based violence

-Prevention, detection and management of reproductive cancers, especially cervical cancer

-Information, counselling and services for subfertility and infertility

-Information, counselling and services for sexual health and well-being.

The authors conclude that, “With commitment and leadership from national governments supported by a broad base of stakeholders, the realization of universal access to the full range of SRH services is well within reach.”

FULL TEXT: The Lancet, 14 November 2023