Members of Parliament with members of the community who visited the Ohandungu Clinic for health services.
|Story by Ndahafa Kaukungua
In an effort to raise awareness on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights matters; the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs in collaboration with the SADC Parliamentary Forum, has embarked on an outreach programme to the Kunene and Erongo Regions.
Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) encompass the right of all individuals to make decisions concerning their sexual activity and reproduction free from discrimination, coercion and violence. Specifically, access to SRHR ensures individuals are able to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and means to do so.
The consultations also seeks to determine the extent of the burden of SRHR issues such as HIV and AIDS, STIs, teen pregnancies, early marriages, baby dumping, unsafe abortions, drugs and substance abuse.
During the outreach that commenced in Opuwo and surrounding villages from the 7th to the 9th of August 2017; the Committee conducted a series of consultations with stakeholders from the health, safety and security services and education sectors; the Ministry of Gender Equity and Child Welfare and community members on the state of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV/AIDS in the region and also visited health facilities in Opuwo, Oruvandji, Ombombo and Ohandungu.
The respective stakeholders consulted lamented the worrisome trend of increasing teenage pregnancies, especially so as some of the pregnant teens are minors. The early teenage pregnancies phenomenon is most probably compounded by customary practices such as early marriages. They further stated that the outcome of observing such customary practices is that young girls are prevented from exercising their sexual and reproductive health and rights as young girls cannot have bargaining rights in a customary marriage to an adult. Teenage pregnancies are still on the increase despite the family planning services offered at health facilities. The stakeholders stressed to the Committee an urgent need for proper coordination of service delivery as the health sector remains under pressure to provide health services due to lack of sufficient health professionals and facilities.
The Committee will continue the outreach program in Kamanjab, Khorixas, Swakopmund, Walvisbay, Usakos, Omaruru, Karibib and will conclude the outreach in Otjimbingwe on the 18th of August 2017.