Inadequate SRHR Education or Inadequate Infrastructure – Which is the Limiting Factor?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Neha Kasaravalli, a 22 year old Medical Student at the University of Manchester, UK. She is 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 writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The issue of sexual and reproductive human rights (SRHR) transverses race. The taboo of discussing a sexually transmitted disease is a global issue and the stigma it brings with it affects those diagnosed universally. “Will I get HIV from kissing” still remains one of the top google searches – exemplifying worldwide misconceptions regarding the disease.  Whilst the fight against stigma is led by educating people on sexual health, consent and healthy relationship dynamics, we must not discount the importance of good local health infrastructure and implementation of adequate availability of contraception and medication.

My experiences working in both Western hospitals and African hospitals confounded this reality. Patient X, from Uganda, was aged 15 attending a genitourinary clinic in her nearest district hospital. She was silent with shock as she was told of her new diagnosis of HIV. “It was only one time.” The cliché echoes across the globe in genitourinary clinics everywhere. Patient Y, from the UK, was less silent, and more angry. “Will this kill me?” The difference for Patient X and Y is that it isn’t necessarily a death sentence for one of them. Unfortunately, 1.5 billion young people living with HIV in developed countries have only a 20% chance of living till the age of 60(1,2). Both of them, while lacking in education surrounding contraception, understood the impact of HIV on their life. Both of them received counselling; they needed to take regular anti-retroviral medication and use barrier methods of contraception to stop the spread. But it is not enough to empower people through education if condoms are not freely available. Another challenge remains with the lack of government funding or integrated SRHR and HIV response. This has resulted in increased reliance on ART provided by NGOs in developing countries(1).

Ultimately, improving access to treatment is not enough to end HIV once and for all, despite lowering the risk of transmission. For example, it was found that despite improving access to HIV antiretroviral therapy in Thailand, the prevalence of HIV in young people had not decreased like it was hypothesised to(3,4). Thus, prevention of HIV needs to be targeted to those who are high risk, and there must be investment into training primary healthcare administrators and mobilising funds for educational packages. This is also being encouraged by the WHO through the development of a toolkit(5). Evidence based prevention methods may be useful, like providing access to pre-exposure prophylaxis to at-risk groups. Furthermore, a legal framework is required to ensure that HIV is not criminalised and used unjustly to discriminate against those living with the condition. 

It is clear that more work is needed to ensure improved infrastructure for high quality universal healthcare coverage for sexual and reproductive health conditions. Nevertheless, the utilisation of education to break down cultural and religious barriers and negative stigma cannot be disregarded in its importance in reducing prevalence of sexually transmitted disease. After all, what good is providing a condom without teaching the wearer how to use it correctly? Therefore, both factors limit each other.

References

  1. Kumar S, Mmari K, Barnes W, Birnbaum JM. Programming considerations for youth-friendly HIV care and treatment services. Washington, DC: The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; 2008.
  2.  Global Statistics [Internet]. HIV.gov. 2020 [cited 25 November 2020]. Available from: https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics
  3. 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;32(suppl_4):iv57-iv66. doi:10.1093/heapol/czw119
  4. Unfpa.org. 2020 Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: An essential element of Universal Health Coverage[cited 25 November 2020]. Available from: https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/UF_SupplementAndUniversalAccess_30-online.pd
  5. World Health Organization. (2016). Consolidated Guidelines on HIV Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care for Key Populations. Available at: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/246200/9789241511124- eng.pdf;jsessionid=A1CDD6F3746A7A05918A7115CBFAD5BC?sequence=1

About the author

Neha Kasaravalli is a 22 year old Medical Student at the University of Manchester, UK and the National Liaison Officer for the Standing Committee for Medical Education between the UK and IFMSA. She is very passionate about women’s health and is campaigning to reduce the stigma around sexual health education. She is also advocating for improved sustainable menstrual products to combat period poverty and their impact on women’s education. 

the sting Milestones

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

COP25: Global investors urge countries to meet climate action goals

Trump doesn’t only target Germany, aims to crack the entire EU

Could robot leaders do better than our current politicians?

Dignified health for all who live here

Entrepreneurship in a newly shaped Europe: what is the survival kit for a young Catalan and British entrepreneur in 2018?

A young European voice on Grexit: too high a bill and too big a deal!

Markets can accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy

Statement by the European Commission following the first meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee

This project wants to bring broadband – and hope – to rural India

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

104 countries have laws that prevent women from working in some jobs

How to build a digital infrastructure that benefits emerging economies

Drastic deterioration in security across Burkina Faso as 70,000 flee their homes in past two months, UN warns

The ocean is teeming with microplastic – a million times more than we thought, suggests new research

Central America: EU increases humanitarian support by €5 million and delivers additional in kind assistance to hurricane victims

Migration has set EU’s political clock ticking; the stagnating economy cannot help it and Turkey doesn’t cooperate

It’s time to strengthen global digital cooperation

The real economy is not a side event in the global decarbonization effort

Commission provides 20 cities with funding for innovative security, digital, environmental and inclusion projects

Human Rights breaches in Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and Zimbabwe

Tigray conflict: EU humanitarian support to Ethiopian refugees reaching Sudan

In Pakistan, Guterres urges world to step up climate action, praises support to Afghan refugees

France and Poland to block David Cameron’s plans on immigration

JADE Generations Club 2015: Knowledge vs. competences – Do not wait for the change to happen, but make it happen

UN expert ‘shocked’ by Egyptian reprisals against human rights defenders she met

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “It is the implementation, Stupid!”, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble points the finger to Greece from Davos

What Thailand can teach us about mental health

UN must bring more women police officers into the fold to be effective – UN peacekeeping official

How income-sharing agreements can improve access to education

Busting the myths about coronavirus

In DR Congo, UN Security Council says December polls are ‘historic opportunity’ for country

MWC 2016 LIVE: Mobile World Congress shows off planes, trams and automobiles

Matilde and her struggle from the past, for the progress of the future

Italy and Greece zeroed their fiscal deficits, expect Germany’s response

Is there a new debt crisis on the horizon?

Why the ECB had to clarify it caters for the entire Eurozone not just Germany?

Online platforms required by law to be more transparent with EU businesses

5 Black heroes of the environmental movement

UN rights chief ‘appalled’ by US border detention conditions, says holding migrant children may violate international law

Sustainable Development Summit: ‘We must step up our efforts – now’, Guterres declares

How the power of youth can help fight air pollution across Africa

These technologies are playing a major role at the Cricket World Cup

Anti-Corruption: First review of the EU’s implementation of United Nations Convention against Corruption

Security Council approves ‘historic’ political Haiti mission, ending UN peacekeeping role in the country

EU guidance on the handling of visa applications from residents of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions

COP25: Support business efforts to tackle climate change, urges Guterres

The COVID-19 pandemic is not a break for nature – let’s make sure there is one after the crisis

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s speech from World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of New Champions

Commerce is on the cusp of radical change. Is your organization ready?

How Africa’s entrepreneurs are changing the direction of globalization

This start-up made doing good a business priority – and flourished

Syria: At least seven children killed in yet another airstrike

Are Halloween pumpkins a problem for the planet?

Civilians ‘continue to pay highest price’ in Ukraine conflict, with peace prospects losing ‘momentum’

War of words in Davos over Eurozone’s inflation/deflation

EU countries should ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health

This Chinese megacity is building a giant waste-to-energy plant

Why skills are keeping CEOs awake at night

EU invests €122 million in innovative projects to decarbonise the economy

Workers want flexibility. After COVID, they just might get it: Poll

More Stings?

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