Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a topic close to our heart, mind and senses.
With over 18 years of experience, Dr. Yetinayet brought to the forefront the controversy and secrecy surrounding the topic of sexuality and reproductive health during AWiBs fifth monthly event. Today’s topic served as a great opportunity for AWiB members to openly discuss issues pertaining to sexuality and reproductive health in a safe and open environment.
As defined by WHO; Sexual and reproductive health is a complete state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. It is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Sexual reproductive health rights require a positive and respectful approach. It involves a gratifying and safe sexual experience free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Dr. Yetinayet stressed that women must feel fully respected and accepted.
Sexuality is a gift; it is a basic human right added Dr. Yetinayet. Sexual Reproductive Health Rights requires respect for and protection of bodily integrity. Everybody has the right to choose his or her partner and to decide when to be sexually active. You can’t infringe it on another person explained Dr. Yetinayet. Moreover, one must decide freely and responsibly whether or not to procreate.
When hearing the term sexuality and sexual reproductive health; what came to the minds of AWiB members include maternal mortality, sexual violence, night time job, family planning, religion, STIs and unwanted pregnancy to name a few.
The reality is that female and male sexuality is not given equal weight. Female sexuality is repressed and not openly discussed. It is associated with the sex trade, assault, violation, shyness, and fear of unexpected pregnancy. Comparatively male sexuality is celebrated, accepted and treated as a sign of maturity and bravery.
Sexual and reproductive health is very important, as it is a critical determinant of overall health; well-being and quality of life explained Dr. Yetinayet. It is a fundamental human right and the future of the human race depends on it. It is an expression of love and an important element of women empowerment.
Considering its importance however, poor sexual and reproductive health is a major cause of death globally. 690 per 100,000 die annually due to maternal health. In Ethiopia, 20,000 die per year and 57 die every day. 99% of these deaths are preventable explained Dr. Yetinayet. This is indeed a very tragic and unacceptable occurrence.
The government of Ethiopia and the international communities have done a great deal thus far to improve the situation however efforts made are not significant. Such that 38,000 health extension workers have been trained to facilitate safe delivery however the demand for such services is unmatched in Ethiopia.
In concluding her presentation, Dr. Yetinayet encouraged all women aged 21 or older to have regular screening for cervical cancer and breast exam. In addition, women aged over 40 should have a mammogram every year regardless of family history, menopause or sexual activity.
Dr. Yetinayet reminded us that it is our responsibility and duty to respect, protect and fulfill sexual and reproductive health rights. We must all know our bodies and know our worth. We are responsible for our self and must stand up for our rights and spread the news. The time to act is Now.
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