Francophone Africa: What priorities in sexual and reproductive health?

22 September, 2020


In September 2020, SRHM partners, the Moroccan non-governmental organisation All for Reproductive Health/Ensemble pour la Santé Sexuelle et Reproductive (ESR) and the National School of Public Health (ENSP), published the 6th edition of the French SRHM Journal – Questions de Santé Sexuelle et Reproductive.

Read the journal issue here


One month prior to the launch of the new French issue, Amina Barkat, Head of neonatal medicine and resuscitation at the Ibn Sina Hospital Center and Professor at the Mohamed V University, interviewed Bouchra Assarag, President of ESR and member of the French editorial committee, in Morocco.

Below is the recorded interview in French as well as a translated summary.

Translated summary of the interview with Bouchra Assarag

Bouchra Assarag works as a doctor, holds a doctorate in public health from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), and is an expert in sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Since 2014, she has been President of the association Ensemble pour la Santé Sexuelle et Reproductive (ESR) or All for Reproductive Health in English. In addition, Bouchra has experience coordinating several national and international studies in the field of SRH. She has also helped local SRH associations with their capacity building, management, and advocacy.


Q1. Can you tell us how you decided on the themes for this French issue of SRHM?

Although the Francophone Africa region has a wide range of SRH policies and approaches, different countries still share similar concerns.

The articles in this 6th French issue were originally published by SRHM in English. By translating this knowledge, we share and exchange international experiences published in English and make them accessible to professionals in French-speaking countries. Our editorial committee made up of SRH researchers, decision-makers, and activists from a variety of countries in West, South and North Africa, selected each article to be translated.

The editorial committee prioritized the following themes for this issue: maternal and neonatal health, abortion services and access, and youth and adolescent health. Within these themes, diverse experiences are illustrated in each country or throughout the region.


Q2. Which articles were chosen for each theme?

To speak of the theme of maternal health, the editorial committee selected three articles – one of them being on interdisciplinary research and advocacy work around obstetric violence as a violation of human rights. This article provides policy recommendations to strengthen multisectoral efforts to ensure respectful maternity care for all.

In relation to the topic of abortion, we selected articles that address how legal restrictions influence access to safe abortion and post-abortion care, and what are the consequences of such policies on women’s health in countries where abortion is illegal or restricted.

The theme of adolescent health is addressed in the very first article of the issue which questions the reasons and social determinants that are used to justify the marriage of adolescent girls in French-speaking African countries.


Q3. Are there any articles that are particularly relevant for North or West Africa?

In French-speaking Africa, SRH remains a major public health challenge, whether for North or West Africa. Overall, maternal and child health has dominated the SRH agenda in our region, with modest progress on gender-based violence programmes.

Our newest French SRHM journal issue, Questions de Santé Sexuelle et Reproductive, is a space for healthcare professionals, researchers, policy makers, and activists who work in SRH to consult evidence- and rights-based analyses on priority issues in our countries. This issue is more than a journal – it is a space for advocacy and supports decision-making.