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WAS Statement on the Human Reproductive Programme Meeting in Geneva

May 12th, 2023

THE WORLD ASSOCIATION FOR SEXUAL HEALTH (WAS) is grateful to have had the opportunity to engage and contribute to the Policy Coordination Committee (PCC) meeting of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (also known as the Human Reproduction Programme or HRP).

 

The HRP is the main instrument within the United Nations system for research in human reproduction, generating evidence and informed guidelines to which WAS has contributed. The meeting was hosted at the headquarters of the WHO in Geneva between the 25th and the 27th of April 2023. Pedro Nobre, immediate past-president of WAS and Director of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the University of Porto, represented the organisation and intervened on several occasions. 

Other WAS members also participated, including Dr Faysal-el-Kak, recently designated as the inaugural president of the proposed new WAS Federation in the North-Africa and Middle-East region, Director of Women’s Integrated Sexual Health Program (WISH) at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, in his capacity as an invited speaker; Eszter Kismödi, Associate Secretary of WAS, representing Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters (SHRM) of whom she is editor; and Anne Philpott, Founder and Co-Director of a WAS Member Organisation, The Pleasure Project, as invited speaker.

The 50th anniversary of the HRP 

WAS welcomes the 50th anniversary of the HRP and the many achievements and breakthroughs in reproductive health which were supported through its work and celebrated on this occasion.

WAS joins WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said at the meeting: “For 50 years, the Human Reproduction Programme has played an invaluable role in promoting and protecting access to services for sexual and reproductive health. Its role is now more important than ever.”

Dr Pascale Allotey, Director, Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, WHO, which administers the HRP added: “We’re looking to a future where talking about sexual health is not a taboo, is not stigmatised, is not considered inappropriate for any culture. Sexual and reproductive health should be considered part of an essential universal health coverage package. Health is political, and sexual and reproductive health is political, but with robust evidence, we can show why these issues are critical to health outcomes around the world.”

On behalf of WAS, Pedro Nobre emphasised the meeting’s importance as a turning point from a focus on problems to an approach oriented towards the promotion of sexual health and well-being.

WAS welcomes the inclusion of sexual health and well-being across the life-course as a focus area of the HRP in 2023-2028. Recent research supports this more positive view of sexuality as a central dimension of human experience and a source of well-being and satisfaction. It is also at the heart of the WAS Declaration of Sexual Rights.

The inclusion of sexual pleasure within HRP focus areas

WAS especially welcomes the inclusion of sexual pleasure within HRP focus areas. Sexual pleasure was the focus of an entire panel on the importance of sex education and positive framing of sexual health (which took place on the third day of the policy coordination board).

The panel included WAS members Faysal-el-Kak and Anne Philpott. It was moderated by Dr Lianne Gonsalves, Scientist, of the Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at the WHO.

 

The WAS Sexual Pleasure Declaration was highlighted by a panellist and from the floor by Pedro Nobre. There was positive discussion within the session, and it was noted that recent research has shown that pleasure-inclusive sexual health interventions improve sexual health, as conducted by The Pleasure Project and the HRP. The Pleasure Principles, that act as a practical guide to the implementation of the Declaration and pleasure-based sexual health, and which WAS has endorsed, were also noted by panellists and the audience.

Sexual Health, Rights, Justice and Pleasure for ALL

WAS is committed to strengthening the collaboration with the HRP and WHO, as expressed in the conversations of WAS representatives with WHO leaders.

 

WAS is well-placed to support the HRP’s value proposition in developing research, informing policy change and promoting capacity-strengthening and professional exchange across a broad network of sexual health, rights and education organisations and experts from around the world.

 

Together, we aim to expand and advance “Sexual Health, Rights, Justice and Pleasure for ALL.”

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