Reproductive health (RH) is a key facet of human development. Improved RH outcomes - lower fertility rates, improved pregnancy outcomes, and lower sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - have broader individual, family, and societal benefits, including a healthier and more productive work force; greater financial and other resources for each child in smaller families; and as a means for enabling young women to delay childbearing until they have achieved educational and other goals. Many studies have demonstrated that poor RH outcomes - early pregnancies, unintended pregnancies, excess fertility, poorly managed obstetric complications - adversely affect the opportunities for poor women and their families to escape poverty. This document presents a detailed operationalization of the RH component of the Bank's 2007 Health, Nutrition, and Population (HNP) Strategy. In tandem with the global re-emphasis of RH and in recognition of the importance of RH for human development, this Action Plan aims at reinvigorating the Bank's commitment to helping client countries improve their RH outcomes, particularly for the poor and the vulnerable and in the context of the Bank's overall strategy for poverty alleviation. The Action Plan outlines activities that the Bank will undertake in order to better serve client countries in their efforts to improve RH outcomes. Within the broader framework of health systems strengthening (HSS), the RH Action Plan proposes helping countries to address high fertility, including unmet demand for contraception, improve pregnancy outcomes, and reduce STIs.
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