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Society benefits when women receive healthcare

One of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls by 2030. These goals recognise that sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental human right that urgently needs to be honoured and addressed in many developing countries around the world.

Every year in developing countries, more than 30 million women aren’t able to give birth at a health care facility. Over 45 million women have inadequate or a complete lack of antenatal care. More than 200 million women who want to avoid pregnancy in these countries don’t even have access to modern contraception.

Accelerating healthcare services to adults

The Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights seeks to accelerate the progress of providing all of the 4.3 billion people of reproductive age worldwide with proper sexual and reproductive health services. This commission was convened in 2016.

To do this, they have proposed a new and comprehensive definition of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The commission has also outlined the actions that need to be taken in order to change social norms, laws and policies to uphold these rights. 

These actions include educating adolescents on contraception, sexual well-being and how to prevent sexually transmitted infections. They also aim to undertake contraceptive counselling as part of postpartum and post-abortion care and meet the needs for access to modern contraception, safe abortion and newborn healthcare.

Interventions can lower unwanted pregnancies

The commission found that these interventions could reduce unintended pregnancies by 75% and will assist in preventing, detecting and managing gender-based violence, infertility and reproductive cancers.

It has been shown that universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, while ambitious, is achievable and even affordable at a cost of USD$9 (~R130) per person per year. Having governments, health ministries and service providers around the world introduce and implement these interventions is fundamental to humanity’s well-being and survival.

It is also vital that healthcare service providers introduce these interventions into the system. Many developing countries can make a difference by committing to universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. Continuous progress in healthcare and delivery is needed to truly benefit society.

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