Category : Naya Blog
Universal access to sexual and reproductive health services means that enough services and information are available, accessible and acceptable to meet the different needs of all individuals. This requires that people can safely reach services without travelling for a long time or distance, and that those with disabilities can easily access buildings. Services and treatments must be affordable, and based on principles of equity such that poor people do not bear a higher burden from the cost than more wealthy people. Care should also be sensitive to social and cultural considerations including gender, language and religion.
Universal access to SRH requires that services are of adequate quality (availability of skilled medical personnel, approved and unexpired drugs and equipment, proper infrastructure including safe water and sanitation); and that providers do not discriminate on the basis of sexuality, gender, ethnicity and age.
In Kenya, perceived poor quality of services, inappropriate treatment and discrimination by health professionals deters many people from using and accessing sexual and reproductive health services.
Lack of access to SRH services and information contributes to high levels of morbidity and mortality for largely preventable SRH problems in Kenya. Every year, thousands of women die during childbirth because there is not a skilled attendant present at the birth, and insufficient provision of condoms has contributed to the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Restrictions on information about sexuality, contraception, prevention and healthcare, limit people’s ability to make choices regarding their own sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Ensuring universal access to SRH services and information is essential for achieving many, if not all, of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those on maternal health, child survival, HIV and AIDS and gender equality. Most maternal deaths can be prevented if there is skilled attendance at birth to cope with potentially fatal complications. Access to safe and effective family planning services and contraception empowers women to have more control over when to have children and lessens the incidence of unsafe abortions. Also, contraception can help reduce the transmission of STIs, including HIV. At a macro level, lower levels of maternal mortality and slower population growth increase social and economic development and reduce poverty.
By Michael Okun Oliech (@MikeOkunson)