Equality, Quality, Accountability: Experts Highlight Priorities for Women’s Health
- 03 October 2013
MEXICO CITY — Experts participating in a key meeting on women’s health in Mexico have put forward their recommendations for the future development agenda, centred on the need for equality, quality and accountability in the area of sexual and reproductive health.
The recommendations, which will supplement the review process of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), cover a wide range of sexual and reproductive health issues, including contraception, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and maternal health, as well as cross-cutting issues such as child marriage, gender-based violence, youth and women’s empowerment.
The inputs focus on the right of all individuals to enjoy a healthy, productive and participative life, conditions that are crucial for development according to the participants. The ability to complete an education or to have a source of income, for instance, go hand in hand with the right to choose when to marry and how many children to have.
For this to be achieved, universal access to contraception, quality and affordable maternal health medicines and supplies, and adequate health care should be ensured and adequately funded.
The recommendations also highlight that sexual and reproductive health interventions must be designed to attend the different needs of individuals throughout their lives.
More specifically, key actions were recommended in the area of contraception, including:
• Access to the widest range possible of methods;
• Adequate facilities, commodities and equipment;
• Scaled-up training and supervision of family planning and other reproductive health care providers;
• An essential package of integrated sexual and reproductive health services;
• More efficient outreach and communication to support free and informed decisions;
• Full implementation of quality assurance and monitoring mechanisms.
The participants gathered at the review meeting stressed that these actions form the core of quality, human rights-based standards, which should be universally adopted to inform how programmes are designed and implemented at country level.
In the area of maternal health, they underscored that it is imperative to fulfill the human right to health and advance equality of access for maternity care, especially for disadvantaged groups, such as adolescents, women living in conflict and post-conflict settings, and migrants.
Health system strengthening was also pinpointed as essential. Governments must ensure that all women and girls have adequate access to fully competent and empowered health workers, including midwives. Professionals should be well equipped and supported by the health system at all times, but particularly during pregnancy and childbirth.
Recommendations in the area of sexually transmitted infections and HIV included the integration of investments through comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services in primary health facilities.