The RCOG welcomes the publication of the International Development Select Committee’s (IDC) report on The FCDO’s approach to sexual and reproductive health.
We are pleased that the IDC has called for an increased investment from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRHR) around the world, as well as an increased focus on gynaecological conditions within its SRHR programming. The report acknowledges the need for long-term, committed investment for SRHR and we welcome its recommendations on the neglected areas of SRHR.
The report highlights RCOG research that finds that overall morbidity for women and girls due to so-called ‘benign’ gynaecological conditions outweighs the combined morbidity from malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS in low and middle-income countries.
The RCOG submitted written evidence to the inquiry, alongside the Coalition of Health Professional Bodies and Royal Colleges for SRHR, coordinated by the RCOG, which submitted written and oral evidence to the Committee for its inquiry.
In our submission to the committee we advocated for FCDO programming on SRHR to take a comprehensive approach, including focusing on neglected areas of women’s health. We highlighted the need to have an increased focus on gynaecological diseases, including endometriosis, fibroids, and infertility, among others, that are often overlooked and can frequently have life-changing impacts on the women and people they affect.
Our submission also emphasised the need to increase investment in telemedicine and self-management of abortion, tackle the medicalisation of FGM, strengthen the health workforce, and return to stable, long-term investment in SRHR programmes.
SRHR being recognised as essential to the FCDO’s ambitions for gender equality in their Women and Girls Strategy and the International Development White Paper is an important step. However, as highlighted in the RCOG’s Getting Back on Track report, UK Government cuts to Official Development Assistance (ODA) have jeopardised the health and rights of women and girls across the world, as well as lessened the UK’s standing as a donor and advocate in the field of women’s rights and international development. To achieve the FCDOs ambitions, we call on the UK Government to commit to spend 5% of Overseas Development Assistance on SRHR annually, or a minimum of £750m per year.