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Reprod Health Matters. 2012 Dec;20(40):177-87. doi: 10.1016/S0968-8080(12)40679-6.

Measuring improvements in sexual and reproductive health and rights in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Population and Reproductive Health, David and Lucile Packard Foundation.


Recent studies on development aid from European donors revealed that their funding of the health sector in sub-Saharan Africa rarely includes performance measures suitable for tracking operational progress in improving sexual and reproductive health and rights. Analysis of health sector agreements verifies this. Particularly lacking are metrics related to four critically important areas: (1) reducing mortality and morbidity from unsafe abortion, (2) preventing and treating gender-based violence, (3) reducing unwanted pregnancies among the poorest women, and (4) reducing unwanted pregnancies among adolescents. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, the authors interviewed 85 experts in health service delivery, ministries of health, human rights, development economics and social science from sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the United States. We asked them to identify measures to assess progress in these areas, and built on their responses to propose up to four practical performance measures for each of the areas, for inclusion in health sector support agreements. These measures are meant to supplement, not replace, current population-based measures such as changes in maternal mortality ratios. The feasibility of using these performance measures requires political commitment from donors and governments, investment in baseline data, and expanding the role of sexual and reproductive health and rights civil society in determining priorities.

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