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World Population Day 2020

Friday 10 July 2020 MSI Reproductive Choices Contraception, Safe abortion and post abortion care, Maternal health

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Every year, on 11th July, World Population Day aims to draw attention to issues facing the global population, including the importance of reproductive health and gender equality. This year, as healthcare systems across the world combat Covid-19, MSI is urging national leaders to prioritise access to safe reproductive healthcare to ensure no woman is left behind in the fight for equality. 

In 2015, United Nations Member States gathered together to lay the foundations for the future of developmentThey agreed that over the next 15 years, strategies to address inequality would adhere to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which recognise that a range of social needs, including education, health, and gender equality, must be incorporated into any development strategy. 

At MSI, with over 40 years’ experience delivering life-changing healthcare, we know how essential Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR) are to the prosperity of people across the world. Reproductive choice enables individuals to make the decisions that are best for themselves, their families, and their futures. Our experience tells us that reproductive choice is key to the fight for a more resilient, sustainable, and equal world.  

But as we write this, the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, and our experience also tells us that in times of crisis, essential women’s health services are often deprioritised, despite the fact the need for SRHR does not disappearDuring the first few weeks of the Covid-19 lockdown in Ghana, our call centre saw a 400% increase in the number of calls they received from women requesting services. Our programme in Nepal, too, received an increase in calls from women concerned about their ability to access our services. When governments do not classify SRHR services as essential, movement restrictions mean that people are unable to travel to access them. This, together with an increase in stigma for accessing care and the diversion of health resources to the Covid-19 response, has resulted in restricted access for women across the world.    

Women will always require safe SRHR servicesand when they lose access to contraception, safe abortion, and maternal health services, the consequences can be devastating. During the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, as many, if not more, women died due to a lack of access to reproductive healthcare than from the virus itself. Maintaining safe access to safe SRHR can save lives during a crisis; it’s essential that national bodies prioritise them. 

As we look ahead to a decade wherein the fight against climate change will be key, it’s more important than ever that efforts are made to prioritise the role of SRHR in safeguarding women’s rightsThe climate crisis is taking a growing toll on the already vulnerable communities MSI serves, particularly women and girls, exacerbating existing levels of inequality and poverty. But we know that when women and girls are given the tools to decide whether and when to have children, the health, livelihoods and resilience of not only them as individuals, but also their families and their communities, increase significantly.  

Covid-19 is a reminder that if we want to achieve what the United Nations set out to five years ago, governments must protect access to safe, reproductive healthcare. When each person’s fundamental right to voluntary, rights-based family planning services is fully realised, the benefits for the health, well-being and lives of women and families is dramatic, and if realised across the globe, progress in development could take a giant leap forward. 

This World Population Day, join us in raising awareness of the importance of safe reproductive healthcare by sharing this blog with your network using the #SRHRisEssential and #StandUpForSRHR hashtags.

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