Message From Director

Headshot of Pascale AlloteyDr Pascale Allotey

Director, Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) including the UNDP-UNFPA-UNICEF-WHO-World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP)

In 2024 we mark 30 years since the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo established the contemporary rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health that guides us today, importantly moving away from the earlier concerns of population control. Ten years later, in 2004, WHO’s first strategy on reproductive health, the Reproductive health strategy to accelerate progress towards the attainment of international development goals and targets, was adopted by the 57th World Health Assembly.​

Providing the foundation for our work in HRP, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services encompass a wide range of health needs beyond just reproduction. These services cover access to contraception, fertility and infertility care, maternal and perinatal health, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), protection from sexual and gender-based violence, and education on safe and healthy relationships. By addressing these various aspects of health, primary health care systems demonstrate a commitment to holistic care that considers the physical, mental, and social well-being of individuals.

The provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services serves as an indicator of the overall strength and effectiveness of a primary health care system within the context of Universal Health Coverage. A health system that is capable of delivering comprehensive SRH services effectively demonstrates capacity in areas such as service delivery, workforce training, infrastructure development, access to products and devices and health information systems. By assessing the availability, accessibility, and quality of these services, health systems can determine areas for improvement and allocate resources more effectively to strengthen primary health care systems.

It is in this context of celebrating hard-won gains based on evidence that brought a focus to the interests and needs of the individual and health systems that HRP will continue to expand global understanding of comprehensive reproductive health and rights, and sexual health. This is the moment to take a forward-looking assessment of where we are, and where we need to go in order to achieve global goals and commitments.​

We have a vision of a world in which the productive years, right from childhood, hold boundless opportunities for all. This includes the option to be reproductive at an age when the choice can be autonomous, with an expectation to prevent unintended pregnancies, survive and thrive through a desired pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood, and beyond, with access to high quality, patient-centred promotive, preventive and curative health care.​

HRP has always been a progressive force, unafraid to disrupt conventional thinking, but also committed to listening carefully to the broad and expert perspectives of those with lived experience. Despite the challenging legal and policy environment that exists around SRH in many countries, HRP continues to generate new knowledge, provide evidence-backed guidance and work with dedicated professionals in partner countries and organisations to ensure that information is disseminated, used and implemented. ​

HRP is proud to be part of a broad coalition of organizations, including our cosponsors, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank, working to ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. In collaboration, this is the year to harness game-changing solutions to improve SRH services. HRP will be asking what new products and innovations have the potential to deliver results and significantly improve life for those in the most disadvantaged communities. ​

As 2030 approaches with a deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, this is the year to consider and address the forces impacting all facets of sexual and reproductive health and rights that, together, give rise to important health outcomes. Relegating sexual and reproductive health to the margins of global health, or politicizing people’s rights to access these services is detrimental to the achievement of our shared ambition to foster healthy people, communities and economies.​

This is also the year to unify and collaborate, knowing and harnessing our strengths, in order to leave no one behind.​

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