Today Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) has released a new report outlining members and partners’ experiences of the impact of funding cuts to sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) overseas.
The UK has historically been a leading donor and advocate for the advancement of the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women across the globe. Recent cuts to overseas aid however, are threatening to stall or even reverse this progress.
The new RCOG report titled Getting Back on Track will be released in Parliament on Tuesday 4 July and makes the case for renewed investment in SRHR by the UK Government. The decision to cut overseas development assistance from 0.7% of Gross National Income to 0.5% in 2020 has had devastating consequences for global SRHR services and the women and girls who rely on them, with an estimated 4.3 million more unintended pregnancies, 1.4 million more unsafe abortions and a possible 8,000 more avoidable maternal deaths.1
In light of continuing health system challenges due to the pandemic, and the worrying rollback of women’s rights globally, the importance of restoring support cannot be overstated.
Dr Ranee Thakar, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Now is not the right time for the UK to turn away from the women and girls around the world who need our support. The moral obligation to support women and girls’ reproductive health and rights is clear. Enabling women and girls to choose for themselves whether and when they have children, and to access high quality health services, frees them to pursue education and employment, as well as to participate more fully in social and political life.”
In order to reprise its role as a leading advocate of SRHR globally and deliver on the ambitions of the Women & Girls Strategy, the RCOG recommends that the UK Government:
- Increase investment in SRHR, including making a financial commitment to spending £500 million per year for the next three years on programing and supplies.
- Invest in new and existing global partnerships and collaborations, particularly on stigmatised issues such as abortion care, female genital mutilation and gynaecological health.
- Target investment in evidence-based scalable interventions to increase access to comprehensive SRHR.
- Invest in task-shifting and task-sharing for health workers to support the delivery of integrated SRHR services.
To read the Getting Back on Track report, click here.
- Guttmacher Institute (2021, Oct 21). Just the Numbers: Impact of UK Sexual and Reproductive Health Funding for Family Planning, Fiscal Year 2021–2022. https://www.guttmacher.org/just-numbers-impact-uk-international-family-planning-assistance-2021-2022