Integration of sexual and reproductive health services in the provision of primary health care in the Arab States: status and a way forward



Kabakian-Khasholian T, Quezada-Yamamoto H, Ali A, Sahbani S, Afifi M, Rawaf S, El Rabbat M.


Sex Reprod Health Matters. 2020 Dec;28(2):1773693. doi: 10.1080/26410397.2020.1773693.


Different approaches are used for integration of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services at the primary health care (PHC) level, aiming at providing comprehensive services leaving no one behind. This paper aims to assess gaps in the delivery of SRH in PHC services, identifying challenges and proposing action towards universal health coverage in Arab countries. The United Nations Population Fund, Arab States Regional Office (UNFPA/ASRO), in partnership with Middle East and North Africa Health Policy Forum (HPF), launched an assessment of integration of SRH into PHC in 11 Arab countries in 2017-2018. Desk reviews were conducted, using published program reports and national statistics. Data from country reports were compiled to present a regional assessment, challenges and recommendations. SRH services are partially integrated in PHC. Family planning is part of PHC in all countries except Libya, where only counselling is provided. Only Morocco, Tunisia and Oman provide comprehensive HIV services at PHC level. Jordan, Libya and Saudi Arabia rely mainly on referral to other facilities, while most of the integrated family planning or HIV services in Sudan, Morocco and Oman are provided within the same facilities. Action is required at the policy, organisational and operational levels. Prioritisation of services can guide the development of essential packages of SRH care. Developing the skills of the PHC workforce in SRH services and the adoption of the family medicine/general practice model can ensure proper allocation of resources. A presented regional integration framework needs further efforts for addressing the actions entailed.

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Link/DOI: 10.1080/26410397.2020.1773693