HRP at 40 – Among key achievements
For 40 years, HRP – The UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction – has been the main instrument within the United Nations system for research in human reproduction, bringing together policy-makers, scientists, health care providers, clinicians, consumers and community representatives to identify and address priorities for research to improve sexual and reproductive health.
Reducing unintended pregnancies through emergency contraception
Emergency contraception (EC) contributes to reducing unintended pregnancies following an unprotected act of intercourse. HRP has played a pioneering role in the development of emergency contraception, in making it easier and safer to use, and more widely available to women worldwide.
HRP conducted a large multicentre randomized trial demonstrating the safety and efficacy of levonorgestrel as an emergency contraceptive. Subsequent work from HRP has contributed to supporting the successful registration and increased utilization of single-dose levonorgestrel as an emergency contraceptive in several countries.
The 2003 External Evaluation of HRP noted that:
“EC has spread, from being registered in only six European countries with 3% of the world population in 1995, to 96 countries with over 5 billion people (82% of the world population) in 2002. HRP had a central role in this success through its research, its partnership with other reproductive health agencies and industry, development of service guidelines, introduction of EC in countries, and its many professional presentations and publications."
Today, EC is a registered product and used by women in 140 countries.
An HRP review of scientific literature elucidated the primary mechanism of action of levonorgestrel to be the disruption of normal ovulation. Its use may also prevent the sperm and egg from meeting. Levonorgestrel ECs do not interrupt an established pregnancy or harm a developing embryo.