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Know Your Sexual & Reproductive Health Rights Now

In India, there are multiple sexual and reproductive health concerns that need to be brought to everyone’s attention. How do we do that? By educating them responsibly and making them aware of their rights. In our article, we’ll be highlighting what are our sexual & reproductive rights and how they can positively impact the health challenges the nation is grappling with.

The World Health Organisation defines reproductive rights as: Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.

Women’s reproductive rights is a different scenario altogether. It includes: right to legal & safe abortion, right to birth control, freedom from coerced sterilization & contraception, right to access good quality reproductive healthcare, & right to education in order to make informed choices.

But India’s current maternal mortality rate – 130 per 100,000 live births – paints a picture that proves that several individuals may not have had access to one or more of these rights. Even though the numbers have shown a decline in recent years, the reality is still quite grim.

¾ th of the maternal deaths occur because of severe bleeding, post-birth infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, & unsafe abortions. These are preventable risks that can be handled well when a woman has access to antenatal care in pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth, & intensive support and care in the weeks followed by childbirth.

This is easier said than done. Women in rural areas suffer the most when it comes to pregnancy risks & childbirth. Poverty, lack of awareness, inadequate services & cultural practices are some of the reasons that have often stood in the way of healthy pregnancies. According to a recently released NHRC report, only 17.3% of women have ever interacted with a health worker.

To improve the situation, help people to know more about their health status and take better decisions, the government has rolled in motion a handful of programmes.

Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram: It was launched in association with UNFPA. A health programme that targets adolescents in the age group 10-19 years to provide preventive counselling services with daily check-ups.

Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh: This programme focuses on imparting sexual & reproductive health education to school kids in the hope that it stirs a positive a change, increases knowledge about sexuality, pregnancy risks, & sexually transmitted diseases. For enquires on reproductive health, family planning & infant health, dial toll-free helpline number 1800116555.

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