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Why we should prioritise sexual reproductive health

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th March 2015 12:56 PM

The theme for this year’s Women’s Day was, “Make it happen!” But for which woman? I am totally in support of the call on governments and stakeholders to undertake effective action for advancing and recognising women.

The theme for this year’s Women’s Day was, “Make it happen!” But for which woman? I am totally in support of the call on governments and stakeholders to undertake effective action for advancing and recognising women.

By Joy Asasira

The theme for this year’s Women’s Day was, “Make it happen!” But for which woman? I am totally in support of the call on governments and stakeholders to undertake effective action for advancing and recognising women.

However, year in and year out, during these celebrations, there is a class of women, many times, economically disadvantaged, socially handicapped either by culture or cast away due to some stigmatising issue like fistula that get left out.

Uganda’s population is about thirty‐five million, eight million being women of reproductive age. Unfortunately, a large majority of these women are suffering injustices due to failure for their sexual reproductive health rights to be fulfilled.

Uganda is plagued by negative reproductive health indicators exemplified by;  a persistently high maternal mortality ratio of  438 deaths per 100, 000 live births, a high total Fertility rate of 6.2 children per woman and a very low  contraceptive prevalence rate of 30%. With more than half of pregnancies in Uganda being unintended, nearly a half of these end in unsafe abortion thus contributing to the 16 women dying every day due to pregnancy- related complications in Uganda. In fact, by the time you finish reading this article, one woman in need of and unable to access emergency obstetric care will be nearing her death!

These women and girls have hopes and aspirations. They too look to the future clutching at dreams of achieving something as seemingly mundane as seeing their children grow up, and for the younger women, being able to make it to the university to study that coveted course.

The Government of Uganda has made strides towards addressing the preventable causes of maternal mortality and advancing the sexual reproductive health and rights of women and girls. In 2012 the president at the International Family Planning conference in the UK committed to increase funding for FP services from 3.3M -5M USD. The ministry of health has put in place initiatives such as the FP stakeholders meeting which revamped FP interventions in Uganda and boosted the implementation of the president’s commitments at the FP Conference 2012 and most recently the annual National conference on FP that acts as a way of sustaining the momentum gained so far in the country towards universal and voluntary access to FP services. This is in addition to the sharpened Maternal and Child Health Strategic Plan 2013.

The government has further ratified numerous conventions, initiatives, summit calls to action that have been set up  to  make more strides towards realisation of sexual reproductive health and rights for the women of Uganda.

Uganda has put in place an enabling policy environment, however, with the glaring gap that continues to exist due to the absence of a constitutional provision on the right to health under the 1995 constitution, these policies remain in limbo.

When Uganda’s women continue to suffer numerous maternal morbidities many times resulting in mortality, one cannot help but wonder whether the Women’s day and the celebration of achievements of women and the surrounding hullabaloo about gender equality and other discussions that are meant to esteem women are meaningful. If not backed by prioritisation of their sexual reproductive health and rights through adequate financing, recruitment, retention and motivation of health workers, equipping of facilities and creation of an enabling environment it does not translate into tangible benefits for women.

This Women’s day, my call is on the government of Uganda to prioritise women in a way that really celebrates them. Prioritize their health needs to enable them perform their special maternal function. This will ensure that Uganda continues to thrive and have a productive labor force to achieve sustainable development. Let us truly make it happen for all women!



 

Why we should prioritise sexual reproductive health

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