Sexual & Reproductive Health Services

The Case for More Services

Over 120 million couples have an unmet need for contraception, the majority of whom live in developing settings. Lack of access to affordable contraception in developing countries is largely responsible for the 340 million new cases of the four most common STIs reported each year. Sexual and reproductive health concerns disproportionately affect the poor and women. Over 250,000 women die each year from cervical cancer. Maternal mortality continues to be a serious public health concern in international development.

The greatest reproductive health successes in international development have been the expansion of family planning services, largely through social marketing and social franchise organizations. This increase in FP service access through the private sector, combined with increased use of modern methods of contraception has resulted in reduced fertility rates in many developing countries.

With the exception of HIV/AIDS, reproductive health support has declined in the past decade, and currently falls more than 50% short of the funding required to meet the goals set in the International Conference on Population and Development. This underscores the importance of devising innovative strategies for cost-effective service delivery in resource-poor settings.

Sexual and reproductive health is fundamental to the social and economic development of communities and nations. Until local health system constraints and shortcomings are addressed, the private sector presents the greatest opportunity to scale up reproductive health services in developing countries.