How many of us know that having access to Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services and information is a right? Yes, it your fundamental human right to have access to SRH services at your doorstep. It is your basic human right.
It is your right to life, right to health; so don’t wait to be dragged to the health centre or hospitals, stop hiding behind people or pharmacists, because you may get the wrong or second-hand information.
Just go for it at the right places like the Gambia Family Planning Association, Youth Friendly Centres and hospitals, both public and private, and be independent in your sexual life.
Organizations such as UNFPA are funding and providing SRH services through most of the health centres and public hospitals for free, because UNFPA wants a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
Have we, as a nation, community and society imagined a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled?
If yes, do we know that it can never be possible to achieve without the availability and accessibility of sexual reproductive health services for all and sundry.
Reproductive health can be defined as a state of complete physical, mental, emotional and social well-being and not merely the absence of infirmity in all matters related to the reproductive health system and to its functions and processes.
People be it men and women, all should be able to have a safe sex life. They should be independent over their sex life, and decide when to have children and how to reproduce.
A person who has no freedom over her sex life, particularly a woman, is just like a bird deprived of flying and locked up in a cage.
Therefore, a woman should be given the right to decide when and how to reproduce.
A woman should be allowed to get access to sexual reproductive health services.
When we say sexual and reproductive health, some people may think is about contraception but SRH is wider and more than that.
SRH is about having the ability to remain healthy and free from early sexual activity, which is very bad for the young people with dreams and aspirations or a teenager going to school.
But in case teenagers engaged in early sexual activities, they should be able to have access to SRH services at the right place and time, and the creation of a youth-friendly environment will play an important role in that.
Remember, if teenagers or youths are denied SRH services at the right time and places, the problems they face will be catastrophic.
SRH also means remaining free from too early or unwanted pregnancies. We all know what our teenage girls opt for when they are faced with too early or unwanted pregnancies.
The first thing that comes to their mind is abortion, which is most of the time illegal because it is done behind closed doors, unsafe and which often leads to death.
If young people are provided with SRH services like condoms and other contraceptives like pills, injection or surgical methods at the right time and places, unwanted pregnancies or ones that are too early will be reduced.
Every public hospital should be able to create a youth-friendly centre that will distribute condoms free to the young people, who are in need of the service.
SRH services also mean remaining free from Sexual Transmitted Infections including HIV/AIDS.
If youth-friendly centres are created like the New World for Youth Centre in London Corner of the GFPA, counselling will be provided for the young people that come there, either to use the facilities provided and, in turn, be counselled to practice total abstinence or refrain from unprotected sexual activity that could result in STIs, including HIV/AIDS.
The ones that are sexually active can be counselled to use condoms consistently, that will prevent them from having STIs and also prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Even young person or teenager with STIs can get the early attention they need and get treated.
SRH services means being free from sexual violence, because it gives you the freedom to decide when and how often you want to reproduce. It gives you a variety of choices to choose from. It makes you free from unwanted or unplanned pregnancy until when you are ready or you deem fit to reproduce.
You may be wondering why Sexual and Reproductive Health; well, SRH reduces sexually transmitted and other reproductive tract infections, including HIV/AIDS. It eliminates unsafe abortion. It promotes healthy sexuality.
It also prevents and provides treatment of infertility, screening and treatment for reproductive tract cancers, treatment of menstrual disorders, ensures contraceptive choice and safety and improves maternal and newborn health.
Sexual and reproductive health counseling, contraceptive counseling and provision (including emergency contraception), sexually transmitted infection/HIV prevention counseling and testing, treatment and care, prenatal and post-partum care, sexual abuse counseling, and relationship counseling.
Do you know that SRH is a Reproductive Health Right?
Reproductive rights are human rights e.g. the recognition that safe motherhood (i.e. the right to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth) are human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) stated that “Motherhood and Childhood are entitled to special care and assistance”.
What is a Reproductive Health Right?
The right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their births, the right to factual information and means to make informed decisions freely and responsibly on all matters of reproduction.
It is the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health, the right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.