Raising the Scope of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Vulnerable Populations

(Michael Prewett, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Esther Bueno, a sixth-year medical student and Dr. Nediza Zacarías, a recent medical graduate from O&M Medical School (O&MED) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


“It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years” 

-Abraham Lincoln

Progress towards the elimination of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) relies on the improvement of access and availability of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. The potential benefits of linking sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and HIV programs at all levels – ranging from local service delivery to national policy – have been widely recognized as a way to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These connections can enhance coverage and uptake of services, reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination, improve client satisfaction, and increase knowledge and promotion of sexual health education.

Proper testing and counselling through SRH services is the entryway to HIV-related care and prevention. Evidence suggests that the integration of HIV programs within existing SRH services can improve intervention effectiveness and efficiency, and maximize the utilization of scarce resources for health. This plan of action may also improve access to family planning and other key SRH services for people living with HIV, thereby reducing perinatal transmission with a cost-effective strategy for prevention of mother-to-child transmission. These potential strategies and cost savings are particularly meaningful in the context of a global response to HIV that focuses on ensuring long-term sustainability and comprehensive response to the sexual health demands of the population.1

As such, a significant gap has been identified in the delivery of SHR to adolescents and young women, especially within immigrant groups. Research has shown that this highly vulnerable population is more susceptible to sexual violence and other high-risk sexual behaviors, due to the poor sexual education and access to barrier-types contraceptives to prevent HIV transmission and other sexual transmitted infections (STIs). This population relies on family relatives for health information related to sexual education, and these opinions are usually influenced by cultural or religious beliefs, taboos, and sexual coercion.2

Nowadays, after more than 60 years since HIV was first discovered, we can easily say that HIV is a well-controlled disease under the recommended treatment and follow-up. As future health practitioners is important to understand the relevance of SRH in the control of preventable diseases, proper sexual behaviors, and family planning. For this reason, we recommend a public health policy that allocates resources at the primary health care level in order to develop sexual education campaigns targeting vulnerable populations at schools, immigrant shelters, and community centers. Through this call to action, national health systems can target these vulnerable populations and contribute significantly to reducing HIV/AIDS incidence and prevalence in the general population.

References

1. Hopkins J, Collins L. How linked are national HIV and SRHR strategies? A review of SRHR and HIV strategies in 60 countries. Health Policy Plan. 2017 Nov;32(Suppl 4):iv 57–66.

2. Ivanova O, Rai M, Kemigisha E. A systematic review of sexual and reproductive health knowledge, experiences and access to services among refugee, migrant and displaced girls and young women in Africa. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Aug;15(8).

About the authors

Esther Bueno is a sixth-year medical student at O&M Medical School (O&MED) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is currently an active member and Local Coordinator of the Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH) of ODEM-Dominican Republic.

Dr. Nediza Zacarías is a recent medical graduate from O&M Medical School (O&MED) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is as an active member of the Standing Committee on Research Exchange (SCORE) and Local Coordinator of Standing Committee on Research Exchange (SCORE) of ODEM-Dominican Republic. She also currently serves as the Vice-president of Internal Affairs of ODEM (IFMSA-DR).

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

Greater EU Civil Protection capacity needed in light of lessons from COVID-19

The world’s impact in a small Brazilian town and the increased demand for mental health

What will education look like in 20 years? Here are 4 scenarios

High level political talks didn’t break the stalemate in Ukraine

EU officially launches its first naval mission against migrant smugglers

Half the world’s refugee children not in school, UN agency finds

What does Tsipras have to offer to the rest of Europe? Is it worth an early advance of €10 billion? Berlin sturdily denies it

Spread Her Wings: Let Her Fly

This is the environmental catastrophe you’ve probably never heard of

Protecting farmers and quality products: vote on EU farm policy reform plans

Donors must do more to align development finance with climate goals

Can the Notre-Dame fire freeze the ‘Yellow Vests’ uprising?

What we need is more (and better) multilateralism, not less

ICC Appeals Chamber acquits former Congolese Vice President Bemba from war crimes charges

Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

Here’s how innovation could help car companies hit by COVID-19

Adriatic Sea: MEPs adopt multiannual plan for fisheries

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Latin America, in association with The European Sting

How the Fourth Industrial Revolution can help us beat COVID-19

Dutch voters reject EU-Ukraine partnership and open a new pandora’s box for the EU

How we can embrace the electrical vehicle transition by adopting smart charging

Trade in fake Italian goods costs economy billions of euros

No hard drivers in sight to remodel the stagnating affairs of the EU

Charges against Baha’i in Yemen must be dropped: UN experts urge release of detainees

Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

Six months after the Beirut port explosion: reflections from a first responder

5 things you need to know about your microbiome

GREXIT final wrap-up: nobody believed Aesop’s boy who cried wolf so many times

EU Parliament raises burning issues over the FTA with the US

UN Security Council hails ‘courage’ of Afghan voters

TTIP is not dead as of yet, the 15th round of negotiations in New York shouts

The Tears of lovely Memories

Parliament elects the von der Leyen Commission

Boosting the EU’s Green Recovery: EU invests over €2 billion in 140 key transport projects to jump-start the economy

The Great Reset needs great leaders to help the most vulnerable

How global tech can drive local healthcare innovation in China

EU elections 2019: Rise of nationalist trends and populism in Europe challenges the EU edifice

MEPs back measures to reconcile career and private life

Fostering global citizenship in medical students through exchanges

Brazilian officer a ‘stellar example’ of why more women are needed in UN peacekeeping

Dreaming of China

Code of Practice on Disinformation one year on: online platforms submit self-assessment reports

South Asia can become an innovation hub. Here’s how

First calls under Horizon Europe to be launched by the European Research Council

European Commission calls on national political parties to join efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Europe

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

How Mobile Technology is Changing the Healthcare System

SRHR the indispensable ally in ending HIV

Mental health in the pandemic: how to stay emotionally stable?

Suicide Prevention: Using Graduation as a Transformative Tool

As the inventor of copy and paste dies, here are other computing innovations we take for granted

Give a chance to the brothers of Ailan: reception of refugees in Greece

Rare diseases are more common than you might think

Coronavirus: rescEU medical stockpile expands in four Member States

Finland has giant supermarkets that only stock second-hand goods

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

Why does the whole world want Britain to stay in the EU?

New rules make household appliances more sustainable

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s