Lack of access to SRHR services strips decision-making power

Musa Zimunya

WINDHOEK, JULY 9 – The lack of access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) care is a significant global health concern for men, women, trans people and intersex people around the world.

It is one of the reasons why the concept of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) is crucial to understand and foster in a society that is rife with stigmatisation, prejudice among a litany of drawbacks.

SRHR are out of reach for too many women, said UNFPA representative Ms Dennia Gayle recently, pointing out that “more than 200 million women who want to prevent a pregnancy [but] cannot access modern contraceptive information and services.”

She said that despite the increasing availability of contraceptives over the years, millions of women still do not have access to these essential commodities.

“This further limits their power to make decisions about their own bodies, including whether or when to become pregnant,” said Gayle.

Vice President Nangolo Mbumba (2nd from left) poses with UNFPA’s Ms Dennia Gayle (3nd from right) during the launch of the SWOP report in Namibia recently

Indeed, many challenges have stripped women of the right to make their own choices, but what is perhaps most concerning is that these challenges do not just affect women; these challenges are a catalyst to an increase in high rates of teenage pregnancies.

“Namibia is experiencing increasing high rates of teenage pregnancies among adolescent girls 15 – 19 years. The national teenage pregnancy rate is 19, however some regions have higher proportion of teenage pregnancies over 30 % in at least three regions (Kunene, Omaheke and Kavango,)” she said.

Numerous set-backs continue to provide a conducive environment in which SRHR for girls are impeded upon and these include culture and traditional norms; persistent discrimination; political turbulance; rising conservatism; climate change, among countless others.

Gayle was speaking during the recent launch of the State of the World Population report in Windhoek last week. ~