Sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health

Two Tanzanian women and an infant in a hospital.
The development of health services reduces the risk of complications during pregnancies and saves lives. © SDC

Sexual and reproductive health is a key factor for a person's social, economic and health-related development. Switzerland promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, which includes empowering women, men and young people. It is committed in particular to improving the health of mothers, infants and young children.

The SDC's focus

Switzerland works through specific programmes and its active participation in international organisations to improve sexual and reproductive health, promote sexual and reproductive health rights, and support the health of mothers, infants and young children. For example, the SDC supports UNAIDS, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and the sexual and reproductive health research programmes of several UN agencies and the World Bank. It is also represented in the executive councils of such decision-making bodies as UNAIDS and the UNFPA.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights

The SDC supports various projects in this area for young people aged between 10 and 24 years in southern Africa. The focus of the SDC's work in this area is the promotion of safer schools and youth-friendly health services and social protection. Thanks to the SDC's awareness-raising programme, around 500,000 young people in southern Africa got tested for HIV and more than two million visited one of the youth-friendly services.


In spite of progress in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, there is still much to be done – comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education in and outside of school, access to contraception, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)( including HIV/AIDS, preventing improperly performed abortions and reducing sexual and gender-based violence.

Although child and maternal mortality has decreased significantly worldwide, around 830 women continue to die every day because of factors related to mother and child health. But many challenges remain[SCHAL1]  in this area therefore, particularly in low income countries. Sexual and reproductive health is a key factor for a person's social, economic and health-related development. In this context, the 1994 UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo continues to serve as a milestone.

The action plan that was debated and signed at the conference led to a paradigm shift away from traditional population policies with demographic goals to empowering people – particularly women – about their sexual and reproductive health. The action plan was signed by 179 countries including Switzerland. Even though the document was updated in 2014, the main elements of the action plan continue to be applicable.

The Cairo action plan covers a variety of areas ranging from gender equality to education and health. It underlines the importance of addressing sexual and reproductive health comprehensively in order to be successful. The action plan was a key element in the definition of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.