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.
Eliminating female genital mutilation
Worldwide, there are around 140 million girls and women who have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). Every day, 1000 girls are at risk of undergoing the procedure. In collaboration with partners, HRP is working with countries towards elimination of the practice.
Female genital mutilation includes all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs, for non-medical reasons. FGM has no health benefits, causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences. A landmark HRP study, reported in The Lancet, showed that FGM is associated with increased risk of complications during childbirth and significantly higher death rates among infants.
HRP is also supporting research to look more in-depth at the reasons for the persistence as well as abandonment of FGM. In 2008, HRP coordinated an interagency statement on the elimination of FGM that was signed by OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, and WHO. The statement highlights the evidence from the HRP-sponsored research. Following this statement, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution denouncing FGM as a violation of human rights and a barrier to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Through this resolution, all countries have committed to increase their efforts to support the elimination of FGM.
FGM performed by health professionals is increasing, yet it does not necessarily lead to harm reduction, and creates implied approval of the practice. With HRP’s lead, in 2010, a global strategy to stop health-care providers performing FGM was developed. A key role for health professionals is, however, providing care for girls and women suffering negative health consequences from FGM, as well as support for its abandonment. HRP has developed a series of training courses, and technical tools for health-care workers, including guidance videos for counselling training. HRP works closely with UNICEF and UNFPA to disseminate these tools and research results on FGM to health professionals and policy-makers.