Advancing the sexual and reproductive health and human rights of women beyond 2015

Posted by Share-Net NL on November 13, 2014 at 8:18 am

Poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a major impediment to global health and economic development. Many women and girls in resource–poor settings face multiple and unique obstacles to services, including lack of access to health services, fragile health systems, stigma and discrimination in service delivery, weak and poor health system coverage or low-quality services. Inequalities of any sort impact on an individual’s realisation of their SRH, but when these inequalities are multiple and intersecting and take on a gender dimension which undermine young girls and women, the barriers can seem insurmountable, further entrenching some in a sense of diminished self-worth. For instance, while national and local laws may stipulate ages of consent for reproductive services, many legal systems recognise ‘mature minors’ on the basis of marital status, pregnancy, parenthood and independent living arrangements.

A compounded effect of these challenges is often denial of access to SRH services to women and girls. All women should be able to enjoy the same SRH and human rights. The development of safe, acceptable, and affordable technologies that provide more options to women and girls to meet their needs can potentially lead to the achievement of this goal and improve women’s and girls’ health and wellbeing.

Building upon more than 25 years of research in microbicides and dual prevention products, as well as half a century of contraception research, multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs) could potentially have a profound impact on the health of women and girls worldwide, including in settings with high rates of HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unintended pregnancy. Although the MPT field is still nascent, success will ultimately be measured by women’s access to safe and effective MPT products, as well their ability to initiate their use. At a minimum, comprehensive SRH services for women girls should include commodities and innovative technologies for:

  • contraception
  • safe pregnancy/antenatal care including prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT)
  • safe termination of pregnancy (TOP) and post-TOP care
  • cervical cancer screening and treatment
  • STI prevention, screening and treatment.
Author: M Lusti-Narasimhan, R Khosla, M Temmerman and B Young Holt
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