Sexual and Reproductive Health in Distress

On 21 October 2009 the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) and Marie Stopes International as members of the consortium Countdown 2015 Europe, organised a workshop on Sexual and Reproductive Health in Distress.

The purpose of the workshop was to create an opportunity for representatives from donor agencies in European countries, UN organizations and humanitarian and SRHR NGOs to network and discuss the needs of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and access to SRH supplies in humanitarian situations.

The workshop was held in Stockholm and we had 65 participants from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs from Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Holland, furthermore there were participants from the European Commission, Sida, UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, MSI, IRC, MSF as well as a large number of national SRHR/gender/HR NGOs from European, Asian and African countries. 

The workshop provided the participants with knowledge on SRHR in emergencies and knowledge on how to include Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Care and Sexual and Reproductive Health Supplies in humanitarian interventions. It also aimed to facilitate discussions and developed clear recommendations on ways forward. The participants also agreed on a joint statement on the need for SRHR in emergencies and concrete action, which you can find attached.

The participants of the workshop ‘Sexual and Reproductive Health in Distress’ agree that more focus is needed to ensure sexual and reproductive health rights in emergency settings are recognized and needs are met.

In order to ensure MDG 5 is met by 2015, efforts in countries affected by crisis need to be stepped up, as these countries carry the main burden of maternal deaths and lack of reproductive heath services. For example, of the 10 countries with the highest maternal mortality rate, 8 are deemed Fragile States, 1/3 of people living with HIV/AIDS live in Fragile States and unmet need for family planning and unsafe abortion rates have been shown to higher in conflict affected settings.

We know how we can prevent unnecessary suffering and that we should focus on life saving interventions including safe abortion, emergency obstetric care and contraceptives. We have to prioritize response to sexual and gender based violence, include SRH in all medical interventions. To achieve this we must integrate SRH into health systems where they exist. Where health systems do not exist, temporary measures must be put in place whilst systems are strengthened and restored. We have to recognize that without SRH supplies and human resources no services can be delivered and this needs to be addressed accordingly. Lastly, we need to ensure that national and local authorities, communities and beneficiaries are at the heart of all efforts and are supported to be able to engage and develop.

The participants of the workshop, including representatives of EU member states and humanitarian organizations agreed on the following recommendations:

Donors will work to:
1. Prioritize and adopt harmonized SRHR funding policy in crisis
2. Endorse and advocate for the Grenada Consensus internally and externally

Implementing agencies will work to:
1. Be accountable and responsible for understanding the Minimum Initial Service Package of sexual and reproductive health (MISP) and implementing it as an essential component of the humanitarian imperative, as a solid foundation for comprehensive SRHR response.
2. Endorse and advocate for the Grenada Consensus internally and externally, especially in fora like the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC), UNFPA Executive Board and the World Health Assembly of WHO.

Additional Info

  • Topics Article: Abortion, ICPD

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