Govt criticized for little effort in promoting reproductive health
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Despite its stated commitment to supporting the UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) reproductive health programs, the government is making little effort to promote young people’s access to quality sexual and reproductive health services.
Nisrina Nadhifah Rahman, a member of the UNFPA’s Youth Advisory Panel, said the government had made little progress in protecting and promoting young people’s rights to control their sexuality, free from violence, discrimination and coercion.
“Its [government] obligations are still far from being realized,” she told The Jakarta Post recently
Citing examples, she said 25 percent of, or about 7 million, adult women in Indonesia have visited clinics, including illegal ones, for abortions.
Subsequently suffering from various complications after unsafe abortions, 42,000 of them died, according to a 2008 survey by the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI).
Despite the fact that many women visited abortion clinics, the government insists that only married couples are eligible to gain access to reproductive health services.
“It’s important for the government to show concrete action in meeting young people’s need for reproductive health services, information and education,” Nisrina added.
In addition, public health expert Endang L. Achadi of the University of Indonesia (UI) said young people needed access to sexual and reproductive health information and services to allow them to be well-informed about healthy sex.
“It’s important for women and girls to be able to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive health,” Endang told a media workshop on sexual and reproductive health rights, held by the UNFPA ahead of World Population Day, which falls on July 11.
The UNFPA has picked “Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services” as the theme for this year’s celebration. Unlike in previous years, the Health Ministry will take a lead on the commemoration as this year’s celebration will be more related to technical aspects of health.
Endang said it was necessary to ensure that young people gained access not only to information but also to a wide range of services covering prevention, diagnosis, counseling, treatment and care.
According to the 1994 International Conference on Population Development’s (ICPD) Plan of Action, sexual and reproductive health is defined as the ability of all women and men to exercise control over their sexual and reproductive health, including being able to determine freely and responsibly the number of children they want and when to have them, and to have the requisite information and education to make those decisions.
UNFPA’s Indonesia representative, Jose Ferraris, said sexual and reproductive health was a central component of general health and a prerequisite for social, economic and human development. “This is confirmed by the fact that the leading cause of ill-health and deaths among women during their reproductive years, namely women aged between 15 and 49, is related to reproductive health problems,” he said, adding that reproductive morbidity and mortality rates were at a critical level, not only in Indonesia but all over the world.