|UN Collaborations: Global Health Policies|
In 1994, representatives from 179 governments and over 1,000 nongovernmental organizations met in Cairo for the International Conference on Population and Development. Together, they agreed to a 20-year Programme of Action with the central goal of achieving universal access to reproductive health by the year 2015. Despite this commitment—reaffirmed and extended at the five-year review of the Cairo conference in 1999 and again on Cairo's ten-year anniversary in 2004—reproductive and sexual ill-health still accounts for 20 percent of the global burden of ill-health for women, and 14 percent for men. Every year, more than half a million women die during pregnancy and childbirth, largely from preventable causes, and another 8 million suffer complications that can last their lifetimes.
The World Health Organization's first reproductive health strategy aims to address this crisis. Adopted at the 57th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2004 in response to a 2002 WHA resolution, the strategy identifies concrete steps for accelerating progress towards the attainment of international development goals and targets on reproductive and sexual health, as outlined in the Cairo Programme of Action and the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). IWHC played a critical role in the strategy's design, development, and introduction.
The strategy focuses on five priority aspects of reproductive and sexual health: improving prenatal, delivery, postpartum and newborn care; providing high-quality services for family planning, including infertility services; eliminating unsafe abortion; combating sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, reproductive tract infections, cervical cancer, and other gynecological morbidities; and promoting sexual health.
Contrary to the positions of 191 other member states, the United States delegation "disassociated" itself from consensus on WHO's reproductive health strategy.
Click here to download the WHO Reproductive Health Strategy in PDF from WHO's site. It is also available from WHO in French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese.
Click here to read a WHO press release announcing the strategy's adoption.