Top level push to tackle sexual and reproductive health.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are coordinating action to reverse the global trend of deteriorating levels of sexual and reproductive health and reduce the adverse impact on mothers, babies and young people.

WHO estimates that 340 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur annually in people aged 15-49. Many are untreated because of lack of access to services. In addition there are millions of cases of viral infection, including HIV.

Around eight million women who become pregnant each year suffer life-threatening complications as a result of STIs and poor sexual health.

'There is a really worrying rise in the number and severity of STIs,' says Dr Anders Nordstrom, Acting Director-General, WHO. '[And] the consequences lead directly to completely preventable illness and death. It is unacceptable today for a woman to die in childbirth, or for a person to become HIV positive for lack of information and resources.'

Young people are particularly vulnerable. In adolescents, sexual and reproductive health problems include early pregnancy, unsafe abortion, STIs including HIV, and sexual coercion and violence.

'It is clear that the Millennium Development Goals 5 and 4 to reduce mother and child deaths by 2015 cannot be achieved without investing in sexual and reproductive health,' says Ms Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA. 'Averting unintended pregnancy and reducing unmet need for family planning are key interventions in improving maternal health.'

Leaders of WHO and UNFPA agreed the agencies will co-ordinate...

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