Democratic Republic of Congo: At the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence

HABYGAELLE MUZIE, Communications Advisor, Ipas

No matter the cause, humanitarian crises often mean an increase in sexual and reproductive health needs—yet access to safe abortion remains one of the most forgotten of those needs. Ipas Democratic Republic of Congo is making sure that access to abortion is included in humanitarian aid response to the devastating armed conflict in North Kivu.

North Kivu is in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an area marked by extremely violent conflict. Despite all diplomatic efforts, clashes between Congolese troops and an armed rebel group have displaced thousands of people who have been forced to flee their homes to take refuge in makeshift camps. This instability has led to the complete collapse of the health system and contributed to a precarious health situation—with women, girls and children being the most affected.


Malawi – Youths struggle to access Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

Oct 08, 2023 
Francis Tayanja-Phiri 

Girls and women struggle to access Sexual and Reproductive Health services in health facilities. Journalist Francis Tayanjah-Phiri discusses some of the challenges the youth face with the Executive Director of Young Voices Kenneth Mtago

What are the challenges youth face as they access Sexual and Reproductive Health services?
Mtago: The challenges are many including those that on socio-economic, cultural, and environmental conditions. Most youths are not financially independent and it is difficult for them to access quality services. Furthermore, some health facilities do not have youth friendly services, forcing the youth to shun hostile service providers with staff who have negative personnel attitudes. Imagine a youth seeking condoms from a health worker who remarks: Inunso mwayamba za chiwerewere? (Have you resorted to promiscuity?). The other challenge is lack of comprehensive sexuality education, resulting in the youth failing to understand their bodies. Due to low levels of knowledge on contraceptives availability, unsafe abortions are another problem haunting many girls and women.


Sexual and Reproductive Health Is Fundamental to Achieving Universal Health Coverage


World leaders will gather in New York City on Sept. 21 for the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to review progress toward universal health coverage (UHC). They will face this critical moment amid a hostile political climate—sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is being politicized and threatened (both in the U.S. and globally). Powerful anti-rights groups are lobbying to restrict access to critical SRH services and to exclude safe abortion care from health and development initiatives. How can advocates and activists harness this global convening to combat the anti-choice movement while protecting and expanding SRH, including access to safe abortion?

The goal of UHC is to create just and effective health systems that deliver healthcare services that cover everyone, everywhere, regardless of their ability to pay. To be truly just and effective, any UHC package must include comprehensive SRH services so that all people can fully protect their health and exercise their right to bodily autonomy and reproductive self-determination. When access to abortion is restricted, many people are left unable “to determine whether or when they have children and may be forced to continue unwanted pregnancies or end pregnancies in dangerous and degrading ways.”


Nigeria – Abortion: Public Health Expert Decries High Death Rate

By Olubunmi Osoteku, Ikeja
On Aug 26, 2023

Some Public health experts, including scholars and researchers, have decried the high rate of death resulting from unsafe abortion, especially among adolescents, in Nigeria and urged government to increase investment in Sexual and Reproductive Health (SHR).

The experts, who agreed that the lives of women and girls, aged 15-49, lost daily to abortion is worth more than the amount of funding required to provide the needed facilities and services to keep them alive, argued that comprehensive sexuality education should be provided for adolescents.


Adolescents with HIV face “silence” over sex and contraception

Interviews in rural Senegal suggest adolescents still can’t get information on sexual and reproductive health, even in healthcare settings

Hester Phillips
06 July 2023

A serious lack of information and services for adolescents with HIV in rural Senegal is leading to unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and more babies being born with HIV.

What is the research about? - What happens when adolescents who were born with HIV reach an age when they begin to think about sex, and possibly become sexually active.  Researchers interviewed 21 adolescent girls and 19 adolescent boys with HIV (ages 12-19) in rural areas outside Dakar. They also interviewed their parents/guardians and local healthcare workers.


IRC calls for funding to avert preventable deaths of mothers and girls fleeing war in Sudan

N'djamena, Chad, June 25, 2023

Over two months after the outbreak of war in Sudan, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns of preventable maternal deaths and illnesses if funding for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services continues to be culled. Among refugees from Sudan in Chad, women and girls represent nearly nine in ten individuals, with 25% of them of reproductive age and 5% are currently pregnant.

Aleksandra Roulet-Cimpric, Country Director for the IRC in Chad, said, “Slashing both public and private funding for sexual and reproductive health over the last two years has already had devastating consequences and the situation is set to deteriorate. Funding cuts could result in up to two million unintended pregnancies globally as a result of contraceptive supply shortages.


Tanzania – Awareness should be championed for young girls

Monday, November 21, 2022
By Hellen Nachilongo

The cultures of many African countries, including Tanzania, have had an adverse impact on the way information on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and the use of contraceptives is imparted to youth.

This has deprived the adolescents of critical information about SRH and contraceptive use, limiting their access to affordable and acceptable contraceptives of their choice.


India Loves Children, But Ignores Reproductive Health

By Ishita Bagchi
10th February, 2022

India has made a significant progress in improving women’s and young people’s sexual and reproductive health. These advancements include the National Family Planning Programme’s expansion of the contraceptive method mix, efforts to strengthen the contraceptive supply chain, and the 2014 launch of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (National Adolescent Health Programme), which prioritises healthy development during adolescence.

Still there are significant gaps in meeting adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs. Many adolescents have limited agency to protect and foster their sexual and reproductive health due to a lack of accurate information, provider bias, and other barriers; and obtaining comprehensive abortion care can be especially difficult. In addition, adolescents who are marginalised because of their sexuality, gender expression, or marital status face additional challenges in getting information and services. Access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care for all adolescents must be addressed to exercise their bodily autonomy and live healthy lives.


Bangladesh – RHSTEP attains massive progress towards keeping promise of improving SRHR situation

By Tithi R.Sarker
28 Dec 2021

The Reproductive Health Services Training and Education Program (RHSTEP) was evolved through a gradual government process for providing services to the womenfolk in their menstruation related health needs. The main objectives of foundation of RHSTEP also include addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of both women and men, girls and boys.

In 1983 MRTSP (Menstrual Regulation Training and Services Program) was formed as a special project of the Government of Bangladesh to improve skills of service providers through training; establishing service points in public hospitals for Menstrual Regulation (MR) and its complications management.


How the US abortion rights battle is affecting women across the world

US anti-choice groups are supporting local agencies in countries across Africa and are spreading stigma and false information about sexual and reproductive health, often putting women’s lives at risk

By Sarah Shaw
December 23, 2021

As the US Supreme Court prepares to rule on what would be the greatest abortion rights rollback since Roe v Wade enshrined access to terminations in law in 1973, the effect of its decision could send shockwaves across the world.

While the effect of US abortion policies overseas is not a new phenomenon, it’s likely that any move to constrain or repeal Roe v Wade would have an unprecedented chilling effect on abortion rights globally.