Monday, March 16, 2015

Reproductive Health Month

By: Orrin Tiberi, Global Heatlh Corps Fellow

Last month the world celebrated reproductive health, praising and upholding women and their vital role in the perpetuation of humankind.  This year, 2015, is especially important for reflection and festivities. The Millennium Development Goals are set to expire and a new set of goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, will be adopted in September of this year.  

Looking back on the past 15 years, reproductive health has made leaps and bounds in many areas. Ante-natal care, for example, has increased from 65 percent in 1990 to 83 percent in 2012. The need for contraception has decreased as well, though an estimated 222 million women worldwide still lack access and the necessary education to make family planning decisions according to the World Health Organization. Nowhere is the need for contraception education and services more important than Uganda, where many rural communities do not receive family planning services or education in a consistent, comprehensive way.   Uganda Village Project works to fill that gap by providing family planning outreach session four times a year in each of the current Healthy Villages.  I was able to observe one of these sessions and see the incredible impact that giving women education and services can have.

I traveled with UVP staff member Maureen, a nurse from St. Mary’s Clinic, and the other Global Health Corps fellow Julius to Kazigo A, one of the Healthy Villages in its third year.  We arrived an hour later than planned, but the groups of women that I expected to see waiting were conspicuously absent. They soon started to come in small groups, often shy and reserved, and served as a great reminder to myself and Julius that even though we may be completely comfortable with the idea of family planning and contraception access, much of the world is still not.  Maureen and Robert severd as the best of hosts, and soon each of the women who had come for education or services was put at ease.  A few women were first time visitors for the outreach, and after an extensive counseling session each of them was given a pregnancy test and after a confirmed negative were offered the option for the contraceptive method of their choice.  Kazigo A has approximately 250 households, and over the course of the day an estimated 50 women came for education and services. Though this seems like a small number at first glance, it represents a sizeable portion of the community and could mean that 50 families will not struggle to feed, clothe, or education another child.  That alone makes even one patient valuable.

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