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Kenya: Invest more in sexual and reproductive health for all
By okun oliech | Updated Apr 07, 2017 at 14:52 EAT
If we can reach the poorest and the most vulnerable populations with quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, we can save many lives and improve countless others. ​We will also make significant strides in reducing poverty, advancing development and protecting human rights.Investing in sexual and reproductive health is one of the surest and most effective ways to promote equitable and sustainable development and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).According to UNFPA, Investing in sexual and reproductive health reduces poverty, furthers primary education especially for girls, promotes women’s rights and gender equality, strengthens health systems, saves lives and improves health and finally ensures environmental sustainability.The last 10 years have seen mixed progress in access to sexual and reproductive health and in exercising rights related to sex and reproduction.Even as the wealthy Kenyans have seen gains in accessing reproductive health care, those excluded by poverty, gender, ethnicity, disability, residency status, situations of conflict or other forms of marginalization have often been left behind.We have seen positive changes in policies and laws that support sexual and reproductive health, effective approaches to preventing and treating HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, drop in fertility rate, a slowdown in the HIV epidemic and progress in maternal health.However more still needs to be done. Challenges in reaching adolescents in and out of school with SRHR information and services, lagging fulfillment of women’s rights, limited male involvement in SRH and insufficient progress in maternal health are some of the areas where much focus is needed.While these gains are encouraging, they can only be sustained and expanded with a renewed and heightened commitment by governments, donors, and civil society, bolstered by adequate and predictable funding.Fundamental to achieving sexual and reproductive health for all is a human rights-based approach that promotes equity and fairness.Laws and policies should prohibit and sanction harmful practices, gender-based violence, and discrimination in accessing healthcare and exercising relevant rights.I, therefore, call upon the government of Kenya to: Increase national commitment and integrate sexual and reproductive healthcare into development planning, Reach the most vulnerable with SRHR information and services. Integrate HIV and sexual and reproductive health at all levels strengthen healthcare systems for equitable, efficient and sustainable delivery of good-quality SRH services and information. Involve community organizations and address social norms. · Respond to the needs and realities of adolescents · engage men in SRH · Improve monitoring and evaluation of SRHRAt a time of scarce resources and daunting global trials, investing in sexual and reproductive health is a clear and direct path to resolving a host of development challenges, to advancing human rights and to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. If the following areas are undertaken seriously over the next five years, we would quicken the pace of positive change and bring us that much closer to achieving the SDGs. By working towards the goal of universal access, including to HIV prevention and treatment, we can improve and save millions of lives here in Kenya.

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