Sexual and reproductive health

Recent meetings, conferences and events

April 2015

Commission on Population and Development, forty-eighth session, 13-17 April 2015, New York USA

Representatives from WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP join United Nations Member States and representatives from over 700 civil society organisations from across the globe, at the forty-eighth session of the Commission on Population and Development, from 13 – 17 April 2015, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. The theme of this year’s Commission is ‘Realizing the Future We Want: Integrating Population Issues into Sustainable Development, Including in the Post-2015 Development Agenda’. Mr John Wilmoth, Director of the United Nations Population Division states, “Through a deeper understanding of how the world is changing, combined with better planning, stronger partnerships, and greater political will, we can create a better tomorrow for both people and planet.”

WHO and UNFPA have organised a Panel Debate during the commission to take place on 15 April, entitled ‘Ensuring human rights within family planning’. The debate poses a number of questions, including ‘Why do we need a human rights lens in family planning?’, ‘How can countries ensure human rights in their family planning programmes?’ and ‘Are global commitments and goals for family planning sufficiently grounded in human rights?’. A social media hashtag has been created for the event: #HumanRightsCPD

March 2015

Women’s and children’s health at the 132nd Inter-parliamentary Union General Assembly in Hanoi, Viet Nam

A view of the parliament meeting room, Hanoi.

WHO is an official observer at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which is hosting its 132nd General Assembly in Hanoi, Viet Nam from 28 March to 1 April 2015. Dr Marleen Temmerman, Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP, is representing WHO at this year’s assembly, which is paying particular attention to the important role that Parliaments must continue to play to improve women's and children's health, building on a resolution passed on this topic by the IPU Assembly in 2012 in Kampala. This year, Parliamentarians will be called to review progresses since the 2010 launch of the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health in view of the development of an updated Global Strategy later this year and the definition of the post-2015 agenda.

Fifty-ninth Commission of the Status of Women, New York, USA – Special Panel to mark the launch of The Lancet series on Violence against Women and Girls

The 59th session of the annual Commission on the Status of Women runs from the 9-20 March at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. Experts from WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP attend the Commission, which is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, and which brings together a total of 8,600 representatives, including more than 1,100 non-governmental organizations, as well as representatives from government and UN agencies. This year’s Commission on the Status of Women marks 20 years since the adoption of The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The Commission aims to take stock on progress made 20 years after Beijing, and to highlight remaining gaps which need to be addressed to achieve the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action.

WHO and the Global Women’s Institute co-sponsored a special side event panel at the Commission to celebrate the recent launch of The Lancet series on Violence against Women and Girls (co-authored by WHO). The panel explained how violence against women and girls remains an obstacle to achieving the goals of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Released in November 2014, this side event included presentations highlighting the need for more evidence on what works to prevent violence against women and girls, the importance of actively engaging men and boys, the need for including the health sector in a multi-sectoral response to violence against women and girls, and the need to engage civil society in collaboration with policy makers in promoting action to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. It was agreed that multi-sectoral, evidence-based tools and intervention strategies are needed.

February 2015

Stakeholder consultation on updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health in New Delhi, India

From the 26th to 27th February 2015, WHO department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP, took place in a consultation which brought together stakeholders from around the world to propose priorities and approaches for the updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. The 2010-2015 Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which has been put into action by the UN Secretary General’s global movement Every Woman Every Child, has been an immensely successful campaign. The new Global Strategy aims at building upon the success and the lesson learnt from the first Global Strategy and to be a roadmap for action and accountability by all partners to end preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents and improve their health and wellbeing.

Representatives from the Department attended the consultation to provide input on the conceptual framework and technical content of the strategy, drawing upon the knowledge of a wide range of experts – including on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, issues of social and environmental determinants of health, health systems, noncommunicable diseases, human rights, and other relevant areas. During the consultation, RHR/HRP highlighted the crucial importance of including sexual and reproductive health and rights within the updated strategy.

At the New Delhi consultation, WHO also launched its Strategies toward ending preventable maternal mortality, to push for country commitments and financial investments by both governments and development partners to its targets and strategies. These are grounded in a human rights approach to maternal and newborn health, and focus on eliminating significant inequities that lead to disparities in access, quality and outcomes of care within and between countries.

Annual meeting of Gender Advisory Panel and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group

Photo of the participants to STAG
STAG

The annual meetings of the Gender Advisory Panel and the Scientific and Technical Advisory group took place at WHO HQ in Geneva, Switzerland from 16 to 20 February. Experts from around the globe form part of these two meetings, to advise on the actions of the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP, and all staff members from the Department were invited to partake in the week’s activities.

January 2015

Executive Board - 136th Session

Stakeholder consultation on sexual and reproductive health and human rights of women living with HIV.

WHO’S Department of Reproductive Health and Research including UNDP-UNFPA-UNICEF-WHO-World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (RHR /HRP), convened a two-day consultation from January 14th to 15th 2015, at WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, to present and discuss the results of a community survey on the sexual and reproductive health priorities of women living with HIV.

The survey included global on-line survey and face-to-face dialogues, conducted by Salamander Trust and ATHENA Network, in collaboration with members of the UNAIDS Dialogue Platform, the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) and the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), and regional and national networks of women living with HIV. The survey was conducted in March–June 2014 and is the largest global e-survey on the sexual and reproductive health priorities of women with HIV to date, with participation of over 1000 women from 94 countries, ranging in age from 15 to 72 years. In addition, cognizant that the “digital divide” is a huge issue for women and girls living with HIV, hard copy text versions of the survey were made available in all the languages in which the survey was conducted (English, French, Russian and Spanish). A literature review on human rights related to the sexual and reproductive health of women living with HIV was also developed to help define relevant human rights elements which might inform the elaboration of a human rights framework on this topic.

The two-day consultation included representatives from the groups that led the community survey of women living with HIV, and human rights experts, UN and other partners, and WHO colleagues from numerous Departments.

December 2014

IBP Consortium: Semi-Annual Meeting

The Semi-Annual meeting of the IBP Consortium, held from the 9th to 11th December in Washington DC, USA, brought together over 60 members of the reproductive health, family planning and implementation science communities. The meeting focused on the ways in which this uniquely interactive partnership, made up of policy makers, program managers, implementing organizations and providers, can work together to forge a way forward for reproductive health, family planning and implementation science, both in the immediate future and also beyond 2016. The initiative is run by a consortium of partners that use proven effective practices in change management to implement and scale up effective clinical practices and programmatic approaches.

Launch of the WHO-led Special Supplement to the Journal of Adolescent Health

The WHO-led Special Supplement to the Journal of Adolescent Health, published online on the 18th December, was launched at a number of events around the world with high-level attendence. The high-level launch events included policy makers, implementers, researchers and funders, who met to reflect and discuss the findings of the Special Supplement, and to commit to meeting continued challenges to ensure the provision of adolescent sexual and reproductive health worldwide.

The Special Supplement is an analysis on progress made, by the global community, in the 20 years since the landmark International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD), for the improvement of adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) policies and programmes. The authors set out the implications for research and for action, and define five complementary and intersecting areas for intervention, to best promote and protect ASRH. The authors state that, “Ensuring the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents is an unfinished agenda of the ICPD Programme of Action, and all stakeholders need to strengthen their commitment and efforts for the world to move further towards its goals.”

The launch dates included Ghent, Belgium (4 December), New York, USA (10 December), Seattle, USA (11 December), Washington DC, USA (15 December), Geneva, Switzerland (15 December) and Oslo, Norway (January 2015).

November 2014

Every Woman Every Child Stakeholder Consultation

6 November 2014: This high-level, two-day event, jointly convened by Governments of Canada and Norway, brought together close to 100 high-level representatives from governments, civil society and international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, to reaffirm their commitment to accelerating progress for women’s and children’s health in the lead-up to 2015 and in the future post-2015, and to discuss how to ensure that accountability remains at the heart of this agenda. The meeting was the last of a number of high-level meetings convened by various key partners in 2014 as part of a larger strategic process aimed to bring together stakeholders in women’s and children’s health to keep the momentum going and to set the agenda for post-2015.

October 2014

Ending violence against women – IPU General Assembly General Debate

International Day of the Girl Child Seminar

11 October 2014: On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) hosted a seminar on the theme of Empowering girls: Breaking the cycle of violence. The seminar, opened by Marleen Temmerman (Director, RHR), included speakers from Canada and the Netherlands as well as from key agencies and organizations working on ending violence against women. Issues under discussion included child, early and forced marriage and the devastating effects on the lives of girls; as well as the unacceptably high levels of violence against girls. Dr Luc de Bernis, Senior Maternal Health Advisor at UNFPA went on to describe UNFPA's work in 140 countries to promote the health and status of adolescent girls and UNICEF's Human Rights and Gender Liason Officer, Nicolette Moodie, outlined UNICEF's approach to preventing and responding to violence against children. Marie-Claude Julsaint, from World YWCA, spoke from a personal perspective of why it is important to her that girls and women can live all stages of their life free of violence and described the work of the YWCA in investing and supporting adolescent girls.

Links to all of these agencies' work are provided below:

September 2014

WHO at United Nations General Assembly

Ending the cycle of violence against girls

Photo of participants to the seminar
Members of Parliament from the twelve participating countries

Dhaka, Bangladesh. 23-25 September 2014 . WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) contributed to a regional seminar for Asia-Pacific parliamentarians on 'Ending the cycle of violence against girls' organized by the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Bangladesh Parliament. The seminar was attended by parliamentarians from twelve countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kiribati, Malaysia, Samoa, Tonga and Viet Nam.

Over the three-day seminar, the parliamentarians agreed on concrete actions that they would take in their individual countries to prevent violence against girls including early and forced marriage. They agreed to this by formulating laws and supporting the implementation and monitoring of actions in conformity with the laws. In order to inform the discussion, RHR presented the findings of a study on the state of child marriage legislation in 37 countries of the Asian-Pacific region conducted in collaboration with the IPU. The study aims at identifying best practises and successful approaches to reduce child marriage, as well as gaps and contradictions within the different legislative tools adopted.

RHR will work through the Inter-Parliamentary Union to support the efforts of Parliamentarians, while working with Ministries of Health and other stakeholders to support research and action. RHR will also collaborate with the IPU to finalize the study on child marriage legislation in the Asian-Pacific countries.

Global Technical Partners Meeting for the Validation of the Elimination of Mother-to-Child-Transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis

On 22-23 September WHO Departments of HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health and Research jointly held a meeting of approximately 50 technical partners working on EMTCT of HIV and syphilis. The objectives of the meeting were to review global minimum standards and processes for EMTCT validation, review operational tools to support regional and country processes, and outline next steps for collaboration with global technical partners, including resource mobilization and advocacy. Meeting participants reviewed and discussed draft tools for data quality and impact assessments, laboratory assessment, human rights/gender/and community engagement, costing, and governance. Following input received at the meeting, each of these tools will be revised so that they can be piloted in several validation exercises planned from October 2014 onwards. For more information please contact newmanl@who.int, or hayashic@who.int.

Task-shifting workshop on maternal and newborn health in Europe

A group of policymakers from seven European countries met in Bled, Republic of Slovenia, for a two-day workshop on the WHO recommendations for task-shifting in maternal and newborn health. The workshop was co-facilitated by health systems researchers from the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services, as well as WHO staff from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research (WHO Headquarters) and from the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Over the course of two days, policy-makers were guided through the WHO recommendations,

as well as considering their application to their settings. Participants also learned about the innovative “Evidence to Decision” frameworks developed by the DECIDE Collaboration for use by policymakers. The DECIDE Collaboration is a multinational, European Union-funded project on developing better strategies to disseminate recommendations and support evidence-based decision making in health policy.

UN Human Rights Council passes resolution on FGM

September 2014. At the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council, resolution A/HRC/27/L.12 on intensifying global efforts and sharing good practices to effectively eliminate female genital mutilation was adopted without a vote. The Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare, in consultation with States and other relevant stakeholders, a compilation of good practices and major challenges in preventing and eliminating female genital mutilation, and to submit it to the twenty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council.

In a further resolution (A/HRC/27/L.19/Rev.1) on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a follow-up report on how the technical guidance had been applied by States and other relevant actors, to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-third session.

Also, during the session, a statement on the issue of child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) was jointly delivered by 117 States. It declares an intention to bring a resolution on the issue during the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which will take place in June 2015. The great number of countries that endorsed the statement signals increased support for the Human Rights Council resolution next year and likely also the UN General Assembly resolution this fall.

August 2014

Partners’ meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance in N. gonorrhoeae and STI surveillance

Photo of the participants

From 25 to 27 August 2014, the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research convened a partners’ meeting in Geneva to advance the work on the public health challenges of controlling gonococcal antimicrobial resistance and strengthen STI surveillance to improve broader reproductive and maternal health outcomes. If not addressed, the increasing resistance of gonorrhoea will result in serious sexual and reproductive health consequences. Urgent action is needed, including strengthening surveillance efforts.

The Semi-Annual meeting of the IBP Consortium, held from the 9th to 11th December in Washington DC, USA, brought together over 60 members of the reproductive health, family planning and implementation science communities. The meeting focused on the ways in which this uniquely interactive partnership, made up of policy makers, program managers, implementing organizations and providers, can work together to forge a way forward for reproductive health, family planning and implementation science, both in the immediate future and also beyond 2016. The initiative is run by a consortium of partners that use proven effective practices in change management to implement and scale up effective clinical practices and programmatic approaches.

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