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 and the National Liaison Officer for the Standing Committee for Medical Education between the UK and IFMSA 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

What does reimagining our energy system look like?

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

Sudan: European Union provides €30 million in humanitarian assistance

Want a Sustainable Earth? Bring on the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Climate Change : An Already Health Emergency

Mergers: Commission clears E.ON’s acquisition of Innogy, subject to conditions

Governments, businesses ‘walk the talk’ for investment in sustainable development: UN forum

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

Humanitarian aid: €7 million for disaster preparedness in Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region

As Yemen relief operations face funding gap, timing of surge in violence ‘couldn’t be worse’

Paid paternity leave should be the norm in the US

#UNGA NEWS ROUNDUP: Funding plea for UNRWA, Burkina Faso and CAR updates, Guterres praises climate change ‘pioneer’ Chirac

EU Border and Coast Guard: new corps of 10 000 border and coast guards by 2027

‘The clock is ticking’ on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, says UN deputy chief

Robot inventors are on the rise. But are they welcomed by the patent system?

Why India can show us how to achieve growth with purpose

GSMA Announces New Keynote Speakers, Event Updates for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

Back to the basics for the EU: Investment equals Growth

More electric cars on EU roads by 2030

10 ways central banks are experimenting with blockchain

Here’s a reason to feel cheerful – the world is full of Good Samaritans

Sassoli to EU governments: Rise to the challenge. Find new shared ways to finance our recovery

‘I don’t like to give up’: veteran UN envoy reveals how two decades of quiet diplomacy gave birth to North Macedonia

UN food agency appeals for access to key storage facility amid fight for Hudaydah

We lack a global framework for saving our environment. Here’s how we change that

Politics needs to “Youth UP” in order the ensure the future of our democracies

How cities, not states, can solve the world’s biggest problems

Why tourism policy needs to use more imagination

This new form of currency could transform the way we see money

This brand is recycling underwear – here’s why

FROM THE FIELD: Turning waste into a business in the slums of Yaoundé, Cameroon

Drought in Europe: Member States agree on support measures proposed by the Commission

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “Chinese economy has great potential, resilience and ample space for policy adjustment”, China’s Vice President Li Yuanchao reassures from Davos

EU ready to relinquish its internal tax havens

A Sting Exclusive: “Youth voice must be heard in climate change negotiations!”, Bérénice Jond Board Member of European Youth Forum demands from Brussels

The financial future of Eurozone on the agenda of Friday’s ECOFIN council

As children in Ebola-affected areas of DR Congo head back to school, UNICEF ramps up support

Ebola emergency chief decries new attacks on frontline staff, after DR Congo worker death

Azerbaijan chooses Greek corridor for its natural gas flow to EU

Donald Trump’s victory is a great opening for global EU leadership on the sustainability agenda

Coal addiction ‘must be overcome’ to ease climate change, UN chief says in Bangkok

Erasmus+ 2021-2027: more people to experience learning exchanges in Europe

COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs quiz top officials on authorisation and contracts

‘Uphold human dignity’, dismantle ‘specious notion of racial superiority’ urges UN chief

Parliament sets up plan to fight the 3,600 criminal rings of EU

FROM THE FIELD: Children in warzones denied right to education

LGBT community in Chechnya faces ‘new wave of persecution’: UN human rights experts

European Commission: Does Apple, Starbucks and Fiat really pay their taxes?

From zero to one: a realist’s guide to overcoming hopelessness

Colombia: ‘Terrible trend’ of rights defenders killed, harassed; UN calls for ‘significant effort’ to tackle impunity

Gender disparity in salary and promotion in medicine: still a long way to go

A Sting Exclusive: “Doing ourselves a favour”, Vice President Dombrovskis underscores that this time growth has to come from within the EU

Cyclone Fani hits India, UN moves to protect vulnerable refugees in Bangladesh

The business of media in 2021

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of joint control over Prosegur Alarmas by Telefónica and Prosegur

DPRK reports ‘little progress’ since historic June 2018 summit with US

Emotional control and introspectivity in times of pandemic

A revolution, an ecosystem, an ocean: 5G is just the beginning

New Eurobarometer survey shows: The majority of Europeans think the EU should propose additional measures to address air quality problems

UN Mission, community leaders, condemn South Sudan violence which left two dead at camp

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