Sexual and reproductive health report launches in Kenya

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has launched a sexual and reproductive health report following a 2011 public inquiry into the extent and nature of the violation of sexual and reproductive health rights in the country reports KC Sidi Sarro.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has launched a new report following a 2011 public inquiry into the extent and nature of the violation of sexual and reproductive health rights in the country.

Kenya is a signatory of international human rights laws and as such it has an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the sexual reproductive health rights of its citizens by ensuring essential services are available, accessible, and acceptable top all and are of good quality.

Besides this, the Constitution sets out reproductive healthcare as a right for all Kenyans as it outlines that ‘every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care’ (Article 43 (1) (A). The right to reproductive health implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, that they are able to reproduce and that they have the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.

The Sexual and reproductive health report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, follows the commission’s 2011 public inquiry into the extent and nature of the violation of sexual and reproductive health rights.

At the report’s launch the Minister for Medical Services Peter Anyang’ Nyongo, in a speech read on his behalf by the Chief Executive Officer of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Richard Kerich, said that despite the challenges faced by the government in ensuring Kenyans enjoy reproductive health rights and services, it remains committed to enhancing access to health for all. This is in line with Kenya’s 2030 vision, which seeks to provide equitable and affordable healthcare at the highest quality standards.

“The government has put in place a number of legal policy and administrative measures to enhance the realization of this right for all Kenyans, and a robust policy framework to enhance access to reproductive health,” Mr Anyang’ Nyongo said.

The report finds barriers still exist that inhibit the realization of maternal health rights and family planning in Kenya. The rights of sexual minorities and vulnerable and marginalized groups are often violated and these people face constant stigma and discrimination as well as being excluded from service provision. Sexual violence is also an issue that many people across the country face, while health financing is cited to be a major challenge, resulting in a weak health system.

The report recommends laws regarding sexual violence be fully implemented and for the government to increase health resources and adopt a more open and transparent budgetary process.

The report also recommends the decriminalization of same sex relations and sex work and for community sensitization to be carried out to cultivate a culture of tolerance around sexual minorities. The commission argues this vision can only be realized if the government appreciates the needs of the sexual minorities and formulates policies and programs to specifically target these groups.

On family planning and maternal health, the report recommends that measures be taken to improve access to family planning services and a human rights based approach to the provision of maternal health services be adopted.

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