Sexual and reproductive health and rights in changing health systems

Glob Public Health. 2015;10(2):228-42. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2014.986161. Epub 2014 Dec 24.


Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are centrally important to health. However, there have been significant shortcomings in implementing SRHR to date. In the context of health systems reform and universal health coverage/care (UHC), this paper explores the following questions. What do these changes in health systems thinking mean for SRHR and gender equity in health in the context of renewed calls for increased investments in the health of women and girls? Can SRHR be integrated usefully into the call for UHC, and if so how? Can health systems reforms address the continuing sexual and reproductive ill health and violations of sexual and reproductive rights (SRR)? Conversely, can the attention to individual human rights that is intrinsic to the SRHR agenda and its continuing concerns about equality, quality and accountability provide impetus for strengthening the health system? The paper argues that achieving equity on the UHC path will require a combination of system improvements and services that benefit all, together with special attention to those whose needs are great and who are likely to fall behind in the politics of choice and voice (i.e., progressive universalism paying particular attention to gender inequalities).

Keywords: accountability; equity; quality of care; sexual and reproductive health and rights; universal health coverage/care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Reform*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Reproductive Rights*
  • Universal Health Insurance

Grants and funding

This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from Canada's International Development Research Centre.