The development of a Sexual and Reproductive Health strategy by SADC countries is a bold statement about the importance of the subject and its role in the development of its countries and the region. The SRH strategy is firmly anchored in the strategies of the African continent and the region through key documents such as the Africa Health Strategy for 2007 to 2015, the Maputo Plan of Action on Reproductive Health (both of which were endorsed by the AU Heads of States and Governments) and The SADC Protocol on Health of 2004. In the broader context, the strategy is well aligned with the global frameworks such as the 1984 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Millennium Development goals. The two conferences explicitly identified reproductive health as a human rights issue as well as a necessary component of human development.
As underscored by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the millennium Development Goals cannot be successfully achieved without recognizing the strong relationship between poverty and reproductive health outcomes. As a key component of complete and physical and mental health, good reproductive health empowers people and coupled with education, it provides women the opportunity to be a productive and contributing force for the achievement of national development objectives. Poverty and lack of education limits access to services and increases vulnerability of populations, which in turn has impact on reproductive health and on development efforts at large. Given the burden of disease and the economies of good health, Economic development has a direct relationship with reproductive health issues such as maternal morbidity and mortality which take away from the human capital essential for growth and advancement.
The Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy for the SADC provides a framework for developing reproductive health policies or for harmonization for countries who do not yet have such policies. It also guides interventions by the SADC Member States, the Secretariat, donors and other stakeholders in the region. The strategy recognizes the variable socio-economic developmental levels of the Member States and that they will be interested in different aspects of the strategy [Taken from Preface].