Press briefing to launch the Lancet's sexual and reproductive health series

A press briefing to launch The Lancet's sexual and reproductive health series will take place in London next Monday. The series highlights the global burden of ill health; every year, 340 million new patients acquire gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, or trichomonas, more than 120 million couples have an unmet need for contraception, 80 million women have unintended pregnancies, and an estimated 19 million women undergo unsafe abortions; 70 000 of them die as a result. Brief details of the six papers that form the series are listed below.

CONSERVATIVE FORCES HAMPERING PROGRESS IN SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

The increasing influence of conservative political, religious, and cultural forces around the world threatens to undermine progress in sexual and reproductive health, according to the first paper in the Series. The greatest challenge to sexual-health promotion in almost all countries comes from opposition from conservative forces to harm-reduction strategies, such as supplying contraception to sexually active young people and providing safe, legal abortion services.

FIRST GLOBAL SURVEY OF SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR

The second paper in the Series presents the results of the first ever global survey of sexual behaviour. The study, which includes data from 59 countries and cross-national comparisons, will inform strategies to prevent sexual and reproductive ill-health. There are a number of findings that go against common beliefs, including the fact there has been no universal trend towards earlier sexual intercourse.

EUROPE SHOULD LEAD IN PROMOTING FAMILY PLANNING GLOBALLY

Europe, rather than the US, should take the lead in revitalising global commitment to family planning, according to the third paper in the Series. The authors argue that family planning should have a higher priority than investment in HIV prevention and treatment in most poor countries, because population growth poses a greater threat to development.

ACCESS TO SAFE, LEGAL ABORTION IMPROVES THE HEALTH OF WOMEN

When abortion is made legal, safe and easily accessible, women's health rapidly improves, according to the fourth paper in the Series. An estimated 19 million unsafe abortions take place every year. Women should have access to safe, legal abortion services as a fundamental right, irrespective of where they live, state the authors.

GLOBAL RESPONSE TO HIV/AIDS EPIDEMIC HAS TO CONTINUE BUT OTHER STIs SHOULD NOT BE NEGLECTED

While HIV prevention must remain a major public health priority globally, the control of other sexually transmitted infections must not be neglected, state the authors of the fifth paper in the Series. Investment in effective measures to control STIs in populations, such as chlamydia screening and antenatal syphilis screening, is essential.

STRATEGY TO MAKE GOOD SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH A REALITY FOR ALL

Sexual and reproductive health for all is an achievable goal--if cost-effective interventions are properly scaled up; political commitment is revitalised; and financial resources are mobilised, rationally allocated, and more effectively used. The final paper in the Series represents a call to action and focuses on what needs to be done to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health services by 2015.

Chair:
Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet

Speakers:
Anna Glasier, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Kaye Wellings, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization

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A booklet containing the six papers that form the Series and five accompanying Comments, the press release, and other media materials will be available at the briefing. For an embargoed electronic copy of the booklet in advance of the briefing, please e-mail: pressoffice@lancet.com

Contact: The Lancet press office T) +44 (0) 207 424 4949/4249 pressoffice@lancet.com

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Press Office T) 020 7927 2073


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