To achieve good health, people must be able to exercise control over their own sexuality and reproduction. Despite this, many people, particularly those living in poverty in developing countries, are still unable to claim their human right to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Significant advances in SRHR have occurred globally in recent years, but numerous challenges remain in some areas—particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In countries there, the maternal mortality rate is 1 in 39 (compared to 1 in 3,800 in developed countries), obstetric-related injuries are common and children under five have the highest risk of death in the first month of life. In addition, approximately 25 million people in the sub-Saharan region have HIV (70 percent of the global total) and 93 million cases of curable sexually transmitted infections, which can cause infertility and cervical cancer, are reported every year.
Poor SRHR in sub-Saharan Africa stems, in part, from poverty, low use of modern contraception (including male and female condoms), poor quality of health services, gender inequality and socio-cultural practices and beliefs. At the same time, the lack of SRHR contributes to the ongoing cycle of poverty and enhances inequality, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality.
To close the SRHR gap in sub-Saharan Africa, Health Action International is teaming up with Amref Health Africa, the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation, Wemos and the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation to form the Health Systems Advocacy Partnership. Under its five-year programme, our Partnership will focus on strengthening healthcare systems throughout the region. It will also equip sub-Saharan civil society organisations will the skills to engage governments, the private sector and other health system stakeholders in delivering equitable, accessible and high-quality SRHR services.
More information about the HSA Partnership will be released in the coming months.