Members of Parliament and other stakeholders pose for a group photo with staff of Sangwali health centre
|Story by George Sanzila
The Zambezi region faces a number of challenges that are hampering efforts to address sexual reproductive health rights and issues of HIV and AIDS. Some health facilities in the region are not easily accessible to residents that find themselves in the vast sparsely populated region. To reach health facilities for some residents that is mostly destitute means walking over 10 kilometers risking crossing paths with dangerous wild animals. Other challenges include lack of health professionals, accommodation and poor infrastructure.
This came to light during a fact finding mission by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs to Health facilities in the Zambezi region from 29 to 30 May 2017.
The visit, part of the Committee’s oversight function, was specifically targeted at health facilities looking at sexual reproductive health rights and HIV and AIDS.
Head of the delegation and Member of Parliament, Hon. Petrina Haingura noted that it was important for Members of Parliament to be advocates of sexual rights not only as a constitutional mandate but as members of society concerned about health issues. “We need to be heard talking about these issues as parents and as we implement SDG’s as representatives of the people. Many issues such as family planning, antenatal care, prevention and treatment of STI’s including HIV and AIDS, abortion, teenage pregnancy and GBV are issues we have to talk about”, said Haingura when she met health officials at the Katima Mulilo state hospital.
Namibia has already committed itself to sexuality and reproductive health issues by signing various regional and international conventions aimed at ensuring the successful implementation of SRHR. It has recently become the recent implementer of the SADC-PF project on SRHR following other SADC countries such as Zambia, Seychelles, Angola, Tanzania, Lesotho, Mauritius and Zimbabwe. Through this project, which ends in 2018, Namibian members of Parliament have committed themselves to be advocates of sexual reproductive health rights and HIV and AIDS. Some of the challenges related to SRHR include, gender based violence, HIV and AIDS, abortion, antenatal care, teenage pregnancy, child marriages, poverty, child trafficking and homosexuality among many others.
The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) that has been driving issues of reproductive health rights through its recently launched SRHR PROJECT has partnered with the lawmakers to champion this cause. The project is funded by the Norway and Swedish embassies.