Universal Health Coverage: sexual and reproductive health and rights must be high on the agenda

Every human being has a fundamental right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without distinction of any kind.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is based on the fundamental principles of equity, equality and the right of all individuals to access quality health services without risk of financial hardship. Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are an integral part of the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

Nevertheless, SRHR are often neglected. The existing lack of integration of sexual and reproductive health services into health benefits packages stems from deep-rooted inequalities, asymmetries, and gender biases which neglect the needs and rights of women, girls and adolescents who require them, and tend to ignore stakeholders who advocate for this.

Progressive European Governments have a particular and unique role to play in ensuring that SRHR is safeguarded in global discussions and negotiations on SDG 3 and more specifically in the UHC process. The coming five months, leading up to the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting (HLM) on Universal Health Coverage in September 2023, offer an unprecedented opportunity to centre SRHR within the UHC agenda. This HLM represents a significant opportunity for European states to come together to achieve stronger and concrete commitments on SRHR and UHC for all.

In the process leading up to the HLM on UHC, we encourage our European Governments to build broad alliances for the inclusion of human rights principles, including protection, respect and fulfilment of SRHR. Read our recommendations.

Illustration: Tanya Shyika for IPPF x Fine Acts