Sexual and reproductive health

Meetings, conferences and events

May 2017

Participants at the ministerial meeting
Florence Anam, Advocacy and Communications Manager from the International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW), Sheila Tlou, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa, and HE Monica Giengos, the First Lady of Namibia, hold WHO information products on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV.

Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free: Ministerial Meeting

24 May 2017: Geneva, Switzerland – A ministerial meeting was held by UNAIDS in Geneva, Switzerland, to report on progress on the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free framework, which was launched in 2016. The meeting was attended by Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director, Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, as in addition to 12 ministers of health from WHO AFRO region. The First Lady of Namibia, the Ministers of Health for Swaziland and Namibia, as well as Florence Anam, Advocacy and Communications Manager from the International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW) made comments which highlighted the importance of sexual and reproductive health for reaching the goals and targets of this framework. In her remarks, Florence Anam spoke about the process for the development of the WHO Consolidated guideline on sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV mentioning in particular how its recommendations on providing an enabling environment for girls and women are key to reaching national targets.

March 2017

Expert consultation on assisting girls and women who have experienced FGM

15–16 March 2017: Experts from 14 countries of the WHO European Region met at Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England, for a consultation organized by WHO. Their focus was on how best to implement available guidelines on the prevention and management of complications caused by female genital mutilation (FGM).

Building a stronger HIV prevention movement in sub-Saharan Africa

8-10 March: Namibia Wilton Park, an executive agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, held a three day meeting in Swakopmund to discuss building a stronger HIV prevention movement in sub-Saharan Africa. Namibian First Lady Monica Geingos and the Hon. Dr Bernard Haufiku, Minister of Health and Social Services, were joined by HIV experts from across the region, including top government officials, leading clinicians and researchers, civil society advocates and programme implementers for the event.

Namibia’s First Lady, Madame Monica Geingos, UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls, spoke passionately about the need to find the places and language to engage with those at risk of HIV, the ‘BE FREE’ campaign in Namibia, and the success of developing smart partnerships for greater impact.

Participants discussed what HIV prevention efforts work best, including linking HIV prevention to sexual and reproductive interventions, and how these can be expanded and funded across sub-Saharan Africa to best meet the needs of diverse groups at high risk. The group identified opportunities to deliver prevention to key populations, to overcome existing barriers and to ensure prevention can be prioritized while treatment for HIV continues to be scaled-up.

Former Namibian Health Minister, Dr. Richard Kamwi said: “Expanding the reach of HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa is essential to global efforts to end the epidemic. Just as our region was the birthplace of the treatment access movement, so it can be the catalyst for the large-scale delivery of HIV prevention.”

Dr. Kamwi co-chaired the meeting with Sir Richard Feachem, Director of the Global Health Group at the University of California San Francisco. Sir Richard is the founding Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

February 2017

United to END FGM: launch of European Knowledge Platform for Professionals dealing with Female Genital Mutilation

6 February 2017: Rome, Italy A European region-wide web knowledge platform for professionals working with girls and women affected by or at risk of female genital mutilation was today launched in Italy on the occasion of the International Day for Female Genital Mutilation. Named ‘United to END FGM (UEFGM)’, the web knowledge platform, which was inaugurated on the 3 February in Malta, is a transnational project co-financed by the European Union, which has been realised by region-wide collaboration between civil society, academic, international non-governmental organizations and UN agencies. The Italian launch event was organized by the Associazione Italiana Donne Per Lo Sviluppo (AIDOS) and included interventions from WHO and UNHCR in addition to other partners, including the Department for Gender Opportunity within the Italian Government. WHO was represented at this event by Dr Lale Say, Coordinator of the Adolescents and At-risk Populations Team within the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP. Dr Say commented, “This knowledge platform underlines how girls and women living across the world are affected by FGM and need high-quality care from professionals who have been trained to be able to recognise, and to sensitively and effectively treat the health complications of FGM”.

The UEFGM European knowledge platform seeks to improve the public and professional knowledge on FGM to better prevent and address this specific form of violence against women and girls. The multi-language platform is designed for use by a wide range of professionals working on FGM including health professionals, asylum service staff, law enforcement and judiciary professionals, social and childcare workers, youth workers, women’s organizations, the staff of non-governmental and civil society organizations, as well as teachers, educators and media professionals.

Italy, together with the other European countries and partners, called for action to end female genital mutilation raising public awareness and political commitment in view also of the upcoming G7 led by Italy.

Technical consultation for Research on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Humanitarian Settings

1-2 February 2017: Geneva, Switzerland. To support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s principle of leaving no one behind, WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP organized a technical meeting to shape a global research agenda to generate evidence for ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian settings – crucial for the estimated 26 million women and girls of reproductive age living in such settings. More than 50 experts came together to identify evidence gaps; to share challenges in data collection and research in such settings; to discuss ways to adapt and implement WHO guidelines on sexual and reproductive health to humanitarian settings; and to launch a ‘research to action’ consortium dedicated to improving the generation and use of rigorous evidence to strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights in humanitarian settings.

November 2016

Fourth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research

14-18 November, 2016: Vancouver, Canada - The global symposium on health systems research are held every two years to bring together a range of people involved in health systems and policy research from around the world. The theme of this symposium was “Resilient and responsive health systems for a changing world”. The participants included researchers, policy-makers, funders, implementers and other stakeholders from relevant national and regional associations and professional organizations. Staff from WHO Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MCA) and Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) organized a satellite session and side meetings to discuss the ongoing evidence syntheses and the global network to improve quality of care for maternal and newborn health. Quality of care improvement around time of childbirth was highlighted as a driving force to build resilient health systems. In addition, staff from RHR participated in a panel session entitled “Gender and rights-oriented health systems research: How to think about it, how to do it, and how to get results” highlighting critical components of Gender and Rights Oriented Health System Research (GRHSR).

Mother and Newborn Information for Tracking Outcomes and Results (MONITOR) technical advisory group

8-9 November, 2016 -- Geneva, Switzerland The first MONITOR meeting included a group of 14 technical experts in the measurement of maternal and newborn health outcomes. Working closely with the Health Data Collaborative and other appropriate stakeholders in its endeavours, the MONITOR technical advisory group will act as an advisory body to WHO on matters of measurement, metrics and monitoring of maternal and newborn health for the Departments of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MCA) and Reproductive Health and Research (RHR). In addition to providing guidance and recommendations for improving measurement, and data collection on indicators relevant to maternal and newborn health, the Group will recommend strategies for harmonization of maternal newborn measurement efforts and provide a forum to share the latest strategies for improving the national capacities for maternal and newborn monitoring and evaluation and use of data. The next meeting of MONITOR is expected to take place in June 2017.

June 2016

Expert Meeting for developing consensus on measuring emotional/psychological intimate partner violence against women

Photo of the participants

Morges, June 20-22, 2016 -- The new agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly includes a specific target (5.2) under the Gender Equality Goal to eliminate violence against women and girls, comprising physical, sexual or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner. There is however, a lack of agreement on standard measures of emotional/psychological partner violence and the threshold at which acts that can be considered unkind or insulting cross the line into psychological/emotional abuse. To address the gap above and in light of this proposed indicator, from June 20-22nd, 2016, WHO convened a meeting of experts, UN and other partners, to develop consensus on how to measure and analyse emotional/psychological partner violence, including for the global monitoring on violence against women in the context of the 2030 agenda.

The meeting outcomes included: a) the identification of key domains of emotional/psychological partner violence, b) the identification of specific questions to operationalize emotional/psychological partner violence, including revisions to existing surveys, such as the WHO Multi-country Study on Domestic Violence and Women’s Health and the Demographic Health Survey VAW module, and c) consensus around how to analyse the data to produce a prevalence of emotional/psychological abuse for use by countries reporting on SDG Target 5.2. These outcomes will help raise the profile and understanding of emotional/psychological partner violence and its health impacts in order for governments and other organizations to be able to respond to the needs of women experiencing violence more effectively, and will also support Member States to report on SDG Target 5.2. and to ensure that data for monitoring are as comparable as possible.

For more information, please contact Claudia Garcia-Moreno at

March 2016

Every Hour Matters – campaign launched at the Commission on the Status of Women

Group photo of participants

March 2016: NEW YORK Every Hour Matters, a campaign which highlights the importance of timely provision of post-rape care to prevent unintended pregnancies and infection with HIV was launched by Together for Girls with WHO, at this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, held at the UN headquarters in New York. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, Medical Officer at WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP ,helped to launch the campaign at a dedicated side-event, which brought together many of the partners involved, including UNAIDS, UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF. The panel was opened by Dr Nata Menabede, Executive Director of the WHO Office at the UN, New York and included the Honourable Patricia Kaliati M.P., Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare of the Republic of Malawi; Catherine Russell, United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues; Malaya Harper, Director of Gender at UNAIDS; Gary Cohen, Executive President of Becton, Dickinson and Company and Maureen Phiri, survivor and advocate for the elimination of sexual violence in Malawi.

The campaign calls on national and community leaders to ensure comprehensive post-rape care services are available in all communities, and highlights two crucial time-frames: 72 and 120 hours; HIV can be prevented if survivors of rape receive life-saving medication within 72 hours, and emergency contraception can help prevent a pregnancy if accessed within 120 hours. In addition, medical help for physical trauma may be urgently needed depending on the situation. In her speech at the Commission on the Status of Women, Garcia-Moreno commented on the campaign’s importance and potential to help break the cycle of violence: “Raising awareness about the importance of seeking care immediately after rape is important for survivors as well as their families and communities.”

Annual meeting of the Inter-agency working group on reproductive health in emergencies

9-11 March 2016: Dakar, Senegal – The annual meeting of the Inter-agency working group on reproductive health in emergencies (IAWG) was attended by around 150 representatives of UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, donors, research institutes, academia, and the Senegalese Ministry of Health. The meeting focused on new partnerships and innovative approaches to sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian crises. Staff from WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP worked with the Women’s Refugee Commission to organise and convene an evening session on the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, ahead of the future meeting planned to launch the Operational Framework of the Strategy, which has a special focus on fragile and humanitarian settings. In addition, Department staff convened and moderated a panel discussion entitled, ‘the changing humanitarian landscape’, further highlighting the importance of addressing sexual and reproductive health in current and evolving humanitarian and crisis situations.

January 2016

The fourth International Conference on Family planning

25-28 January: Nusa Dua, Indonesia WHO, HRP and the IBP Initiative gave and co-sponsored close to 40 panels, talks and side-events, at the 4th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Indonesia. These presented the latest in policy, guidelines and research to improve access to contraceptives by all, including the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. The conference bought together more than 3,500 attendees who included global leaders, policy makers, researchers and advocates from around the world.