By MILDRED KATONGO –
THE importance of sexual and reproductive health cannot be over emphasised. Although this is acknowledged in its wider dimensions in international health policy, in practice the emphasis on health in sexual and reproductive programmes often hides its multiple facets.
Reproductive health is a crucial part of general health. Not only is it a reflection of health during adolescence and adulthood, it also sets the stage for health beyond the reproductive years for both women and men and has pronounced inter-generational effects.
As defined by World Health Organization (WHO), sexual reproductive health is not merely the absence of disease or disorders of the reproductive process, rather it is a condition in which the reproductive process is accomplished in a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.
The reproductive health care offers opportunities to improve not only the health of childbearing women, but also of the next generation and to involve men in all aspects of reproductive health.
In order to address people’s needs throughout their lives and recognition of the shortcomings of existing health programmes Government and other Non –governmental Organisation (NGO)’s are implementing programmes to ensure sexual reproductive health services are made available to the majority of Zambians .
In the rural areas women and young people find it difficult to access reproductive health services due to many reasons one of them being lack of facilities.
It is for this reason that the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) and Japanese Organisation for International Co-operation in Family Planning (JOICFP) decided to put up a maternal new born and child health one stop service facility in Masaiti on the Copperbelt.
The Japanese funded facility would help increase access to quality maternal, new born and child health services as close to the households in Mutaba rural area in Masaiti as possible.
The one stop centre facility which was constructed at a cost of K4.7 million includes a maternity wing, maternity waiting house, a youth resource centre and two staff houses for health workers.
The health facility will enable the local people access reproductive health services closer to their homes and will reduce maternal deaths.
For a long time expectant mothers in the area delivered at home due to lack of the maternity facility.
Apart from that, women were dying while giving life because of lack of trained personnel to attend to them.
With the coming of the centre, safe motherhood will be guaranteed.
Delia Mwamba, a resident of Mutaba expressed happiness at the gesture by PPAZ and JOICFP for putting up the structure that would help them access maternal health services.
Ms Mwamba said the only clinic in the area was located far from where the people lived posing a challenge to many women who wanted to access health care services.
She said the move would help many expectant mothers deliver safely and also help them access the reproductive health services within their vicinity.
Ms Mwamba said this would encourage many women to access family planning information and services among the many services that would be provided.
Community Development Mother and Child health Deputy Minister Obvious Chisala said Government was implementing programmes aimed at bridging the gaps in reproductive health care.
Mr Chisala said during the launch of the facility that despite the achievements that the country had recorded it is still faced with challenges of unmet needs in reproductive health care services.
He said the programmes being implemented in reproductive health were aimed at maintaining the quality of care provided and improving on gaps and new requirements of reproductive health care.
Some of the programmes being implemented by Government are safe motherhood, family planning information and services, adolescent health, newborn care, cervical cancer screening, Sexual Gender Based Violence.
Mr Chisala said this during the launch of the maternal facility In Masaiti.
PPAZ executive director, Edford Mutuna said the association was working towards ensuring that people have access to quality and affordable sexual reproductive health information and services.
Mr Mutuma said what was being witnessed in Masaiti was among the many projects that the Association had embarked on in ensuring that people accessed quality sexual reproductive health services affordably.
He said PPAZ would continue to advocate for sexual and reproductive health rights of women, men and young people, especially the vulnerable, and to empower them to make free and informed reproductive health choices.
“PPAZ stands as an organisation that responds to the challenges of the unmet needs in reproductive health such as high fertility rates among women, low contraceptive use, high incidence of HIV/AIDS, low use of condoms for HIV prevention, teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions and inadequate access to services by the underprivileged and underserved communities,” he said
Mr Mutuma said the association’s vision was to have all people in Zambia enjoy equal sexual and reproductive health and rights and have access to quality and affordable information and services.