Global Reproductive Health Indicators

Welcome to the programmatic area on global reproductive health (RH) indicators within MEASURE Evaluation’s Family Planning and Reproductive Health Indicators Database. This is one of the subareas found in the family planning section of the database. All indicators for this area include a definition, data requirements, data source(s), purpose, issues and—if relevant—gender implications.

  • Following the International Conference on Population and Development (1994), many international agencies began pushing for greater consensus on RH indicators for international comparability and global monitoring. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed previous initiatives and, through the application of objective selection criteria and an expert review process, derived a set of the most preferable indicators for use at national and global levels. This set of preferred indicators became the Global Reproductive Health Indicators. These indicators are intended for public health administrators and health program implementers who want to ensure their programs are consistent with global monitoring and evaluation efforts of sexual and reproductive health.
  • The indicators can be found in the links at left and on WHO’s website


Full Text

Since the ICPD in 1994, a huge amount of work went into developing reproductive health (RH) indicators. At the local level it has been recommended that countries should select indicators most appropriate to their needs and capacity for data collection (Graham and Macfarlane, 1997). However, if international agencies request that countries collect information for international comparability and global monitoring, there needs to be consensus on an accepted minimal list. Many of the previous initiatives generated compilations of indicators without any clear description of how selection criteria were used. Instead of adding yet more indicators to these already extensive listings, WHO reviewed previous initiatives and, through the application of objective selection criteria and an expert review process, derived a set of the most preferable indicatorsfor use at national and global levels.

Around the time WHO initiated a series of activities designed to strengthen national capacities to identify and generate RH indicators, Population Action International (PAI) began an effort to assess the sexual and RH status of nations.  The 10 indicators provide a benchmark of where women in 130 countries stand on a range of indicators that were incorporated into the ICPD (Cairo Agenda), or into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000.

For each country, the study renders a range of RH indicators into a manageable set by combining them into one single measure—the Reproductive Risk Index (RRI).

As a single measure of reproductive risk overall, the RRI is a guide for advocates engaged in the continued effort toward achieving safe, healthy and informed decisions about RH, especially for the world's poorest women, and for decision-makers and planners in setting their national policy and budgetary priorities. The interventions needed to reduce women's sexual and reproductive risk vary between and within countries and regions, however, and this tool should be used with this in mind.

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