Sexual and Reproductive health services

Role of Sexual and Reproductive Health in Africa

Sexual and Reproductive Health Africa

Sexual and reproductive health related problems of child marriage, adolescent pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are increasing in some African regions. The gulf between legal sexual and reproductive health rights and the reality in the region is enormous. The obstacles of sexual and reproductive health are daunting, thus new modern healthcare strategies are required.

Sexual and Reproductive Health in Africa

Many sexual and reproductive health matters are misunderstood and ignored. Cultural sensitivities surrounding sexuality prevent people from seeking information and government authorities from addressing these issues. Sexual and reproductive health profoundly affects the social development and economic growth of countries.

Women and men need equal access to the necessary opportunities to achieve their full health potential and health equity. Gender and social stratification have resulted in unequal benefits between women and men. Women and men experience different health risks, outcomes and responses from health systems because of social, gender, and biological differences. The health sector and the community have recognized the different needs and accordingly provided relevant services to women and men. Major impediments to the amelioration of sexual and reproductive health in the African region are poverty, gender inequity, sexual and gender-based violence including female genital mutilation.

Sexual and Reproductive Health services

The benefits of sexual and reproductive services include lower rates of death, fewer unintended pregnancies, reduced transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, decrease in disability among women and newborns. Long-term benefits of such services range from greater family savings to stronger national economies. Untreated sexually transmitted infections can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, pregnancy related complications and health problems in newborns.

The family size is influenced by womens education, socioeconomic status, trend in childbearing and access to modern contraception. The women of Africa conceive more children on average than women in other parts of the world which can be reduced by organized family planning programs. Pregnancy and childbirth complication are one of leading cause of death and disability among women in Africa. Cases of sexually transmitted diseases are highest among adults and children of African countries. The public and health issue of abortion in Africa is due to unwanted pregnancies in women and girls, making post abortive care necessary.

The traditional practice of female genital mutilation has no medical benefits but pose serious health risks. Awareness of health problems among sexually active individuals of 15 and 24 years has become important due to risks of sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion and early childbearing. Prevention of sexual and reproductive diseases must target adults and adolescents. A range of personal, social and contextual factors influence sexual practices which can be curbed by preventive interventions. Behaviour interventions are found effective in reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, especially among adolescents in schools. In addition to individual level strategies, involvement of groups, social networks and communities is beneficial. Awareness of sexual and reproductive rights among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons in Africa has gained importance.

Strengthening the national health systems is essential to ensure that health care reaches the most vulnerable people. Media plays a critical role in bringing sexual and reproductive health matters to the attention of government and non-government officials who can influence public health policies. To ensure quality healthcare and promote informed choice, healthcare programs should adopt a discrimination free approach to health care delivery, which takes into account the needs of poor and marginalized groups.

Online Course in Sexual and Reproductive Health

James Lind Institute (JLI) provides an online program in Advanced PG Diploma in Global Sexual & Reproductive Health Management that can help in recognising the best way to manage sexual and reproductive health problems.

Online MPH program at James Lind Institute

Students completing the online Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Sexual and Reproductive Health at JLI are eligible for a lateral entry for the online Master of science in Public Health(MPH) program conducted in collaboration with International Telematic University UNINETTUNO, Rome, Italy.

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