Today, reproductive health is at the core of human life irrespective of the wealth status. Reproductive health care includes family planning services, maternal health programmes, and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/Aids.
In Rwanda, we have the Rwanda-Denmark project that has high prospects of sensitizing citizens on family planning and reproductive health. The project has the mission to improve the quality of life and socio-economic development of the rural population especially in the Southern Province of Rwanda.
Such organisations with initiatives of reproductive health promotion could play a crucial role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
To choose when and how many children to have in future are central choices in life, but this is particularly true for women given their biological and social roles in society.
Ensuring reproductive health implies that couples and individuals are able to have children safely, to avoid unwanted pregnancies, to space births according to desires, and to prevent HIV/Aids and other sexually-transmitted infections.
In essence, this contributes to one’s overall health and well-being.
It is worth mentioning here that providing access to quality reproductive health care is the practical application for governments to ensure reproductive rights.
These services and information make it possible for people to be healthy and make informed decisions about their reproductive health and overall situations.
In order to attain the Millennium Development Goals, there should be universal access to basic reproductive health and access to financial resources needed to make it a reality.
Again, the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger cannot be achieved if questions of population and reproductive health are not squarely addressed.
This implies that stronger efforts to promote women’s rights and greater investment in education and health that include reproductive health and family planning are needed.
With poverty reduction strategy; family planning eradicates extreme poverty and hunger. Smaller families and wider birth intervals as the result of contraceptive use allows families to invest more in each child’s nutrition and health, and can reduce poverty and hunger for all members of a household.
At the national level, fertility reduction may enable accelerated social and economic development.
Again, it is possible to achieve universal primary education that is to say families with fewer children and children spaced further apart can afford to invest more in each child’s education. This has a special benefit for girls whose education may have low priority than that of boys in the family.
It also reduces child mortality because prenatal care and the ability to avoid high risk births help prevent infant and child deaths.
Children in large families are likely to have reduced health care, and unwanted children are more likely to die than wanted ones. Reproductive health improves maternal health by preventing unplanned and high risk pregnancies.
This also involves providing care in pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period saves women’s lives. This guarantees well being through the woman’s life cycle and the quality of her life and that of her family.
Reproductive health develops a global partnership for development of affordable prices for drugs to treat HIV/Aids and secure supply of commodities that would greatly advance reproductive health.
Also sexual and reproductive health care includes preventing and treating sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/Aids. In addition, reproductive health care can bring patients into the health care system, encouraging diagnosis and treatment of other diseases and conditions.
It can also ensure environmental sustainability by providing sexual and reproductive health services, avoiding unwanted births that can help stabilize rural areas, slow urban migration and balance natural resource use with the needs of the population.
Reproductive health promotes gender equality and empowers women.
Women are able to decide freely whether and when to have children is a critical aspect of women’s empowerment.
Women who plan the timing and number of their births also have greater opportunities for work, education, and social participation outside the home.
Additionally, increased investments in reproductive health produce many tangible benefits.
They include improving the overall health of individuals and families, combating poverty and promoting economic growth, and promoting social justice by contributing to gender equality and social inclusion.
One can notice that investments in reproductive health will allow people to enjoy a basic human right. In this context, reproductive health is not solely a health issue but a matter of economic development, social justice, gender equality, and human rights.
Reproductive health for all requires promoting social change, through different approaches such as building on cultural diversity to mobilize people and communities to internalize and work to achieve the principles of human rights.
There are several arguments that supports why investment in the national reproductive health should be made a national priority.
First of all, there is close connection between health, economy and social well-being of the local population. Disease and poor health weaken the poor by diminishing their personal capacity and their ability to contribute to their households, resulting in lost incomes and lower productivity.
At the macro productivity level, disease and illnesses burden national budgets, lead to loss of incomes and lower productivity, thus slow down economic development in the long term. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of death and illness among women of reproductive age in developing countries.
Recent scientific research has found that poor health among women have reduced productivity of the female labour force. This gives the evidence that investment in sexual and reproductive health would significantly reduce the global burden of disease and contribute to economic growth.
Voluntary fertility decline can boost economic growth especially as access to family planning offers powerful macro economic benefits.