Sexual and reproductive health

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WHO launches new guideline to help health-care workers ensure safe medical abortion care

9 January 2019 | WHO has today launched new guidance, Medical management of abortion. These new guidelines provide healthcare workers with evidence-based recommendations to help ensure high-quality healthcare for all pregnant individuals who seek a medical abortion.

Parents with their newborn baby in a maternity ward, Mexico.

WHO updates guidance to help healthcare workers prevent postpartum haemorrhage

20 December 2018 – Every year about 14 million women around the world suffer from postpartum haemorrhage. This severe bleeding after birth is the largest direct cause of maternal deaths. In addition to the suffering and loss of women’s lives, when women die in childbirth, their babies also face a much greater risk of dying within one month compared to babies whose mothers survive. WHO has now updated its 2012 guidance on the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage with four new recommendations on seven uterotonics.


Standing against rights abuses

10 December 2018 – Human Rights Day – 70 years ago today, the General Assembly of the UN adopted and proclaimed the Universal declaration of Human Rights. Health and human rights must always go hand in hand. People have a right to healthcare, and to be treated with dignity and respect when they access it. Yet, harmful laws, policies and practices, including discrimination and abuse too often prevent people from getting the care they need, and can cause serious mental and physical health harms. Marginalized populations are most likely to suffer abuses, and be exposed to harmful or degrading treatment and practices. Every health actor has a role to pay in speaking out for the right to health, and standing up to rights abuses whenever they occur.

Back view of a refugee woman sitting on a chair.

Displaced or refugee women are at increased risk of violence. What can WHO do?

23 November 2018 | The estimate that 1 in 3 women around the world have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner is one that is widely cited today. Whilst this is a worldwide figure, there is variation in the prevalence of violence seen within and between communities, countries and regions. Even though data are scarce, we know that in humanitarian and emergency settings, linked to an increase in armed actors and a decrease in security as a result of broken social and protective networks, the risk to women of different forms of violence are even greater.

Woman with her prematurely baby at a neonatal intensive care unit, Croatia

New global estimates on preterm birth published

17 November 2018 | World Prematurity Day - New global estimates show that in 2014, approximately 10.6% of all live births globally were preterm. Published in the journal The Lancet Global Health, and co-authored by WHO and HRP staff, the study underlines the crucial need to safeguard the health and well-being of all women and girls, and their babies, throughout life – including through ensuring access to high quality and respectful healthcare services.

Woman with her newborn baby

New WHO guidance on non-clinical interventions specifically designed to reduce unnecessary caesarean sections

11 October 2018 | First of its kind – new WHO guideline aims to help reduce worldwide increase in caesarean section rates.

Worldwide, caesarean section rates have been steadily increasing, without significant benefit to the health of women or their babies. In recognition of the urgent need to address the sustained and unprecedented rise in these rates, WHO has today published new guidance on non-clinical interventions specifically designed to reduce unnecessary caesarean sections.

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Interagency statement calls for the elimination of “virginity-testing”

17 October 2018 | WHO, UN Human Rights and UN Women have today issued a statement calling for the elimination of so-called “virginity testing”. “Virginity testing”, which is also often referred to as hymen, “two-finger” or per vaginal examination, is an inspection of female genitalia designed to determine whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse.

HRP research programme