"River of life" photo gallery

On the theme of sexual and reproductive health

AIDS orphan. Photo: WHO/Dieter Telemans
Frank, AIDS orphan, and grandma Suzan. Photo: WHO/Dieter Telemans

This beautiful photo gallery grew out of a simple idea: that one of the best ways to show how reproductive and sexual health impacts all people was to invite photographers from around the world to capture the four key stages in the "river of life": love, life, illness and death.

We challenged photographers to use their cameras to bring to life success stories in sexual and reproductive health, and also to zoom in on the glaring inequities where we, as a global community, must do better.

The winning photographs in this collection are a small fraction of almost 800 photographs we received. Many were beautiful, some were tragic, all evoked the miracle that is life - and reinforced why it is so important for the international community to ensure that sexual and reproductive health touches on so many aspects of our daily lives.

Mother and child"River of life" photo gallery
On the theme of sexual and reproductive health


Sexual and reproductive health concerns everyone, everywhere, and at every stage of life. It is fundamental to the social and economic development of communities, economies and nations. But it also reflects some of the basic inequalities in our societies, the inequalities of wealth and gender.

This photo competition, organized by the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research, coincides with the adoption of WHO's first global strategy on reproductive health by the 57th World Health Assembly in May 2004. The strategy targets five priority areas including:

  • antenatal, delivery, postpartum and newborn care
  • provision of 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 gynaecological morbidities
  • promoting sexual health.

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