Access and enjoyment of highest attainable standard of health including reproductive health is the right of all Kenyans despite age, color, sexual orientation. In Kenya, The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 amongst other laws, policies and frameworks guarantees the Right to highest standard of health including reproductive health.
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of 6 Partner States: the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The work of the EAC is guided by its Treaty which established the Community.
According to Article 118 of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community, the partner states are required to take joint action towards the prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases and to also harmonize national health policies and regulations and promote the exchange of information on health issues in order to achieve quality health within the Community.
The East African Community Sexual and Reproductive health (EAC SRH) Bill, 2021 is one of the regional frameworks that aims to further advance and promote issues around reproductive health to all. The object of this Bill is to protect and facilitate the attainment of the life- course sexual and reproductive health and rights of all persons in the Community; to provide for the progressive realization of integrated sexual and reproductive health information and services as part of the universal health coverage of each Partner State; to prohibit harmful practices from the Community and provide for related matters.
The Bill recognizes the obligation of Partner States under several international, continental and Community frameworks, to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health by facilitating, providing and promoting the highest attainable standard of health and providing measures towards the full realization of the right to health.
The Bill further seeks to strengthen the mechanisms to facilitate attainment by the Community of the goal to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes by 2030 as enshrined in the EAC Integrated Reproductive Maternal, Newborn Child and Adolescent Health Policy Guidelines, 2016-2030 and the EAC Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Strategic Plan.
When the EAC SRH Bill is passed, the member states hope to achieve the following:
- Return to School for pregnant Adolescent: An adolescent girl or young woman who becomes pregnant, before completing her education, shall be given the opportunity with appropriate facilities, within a reasonable period after delivery, to continue with her education.
- Menstrual Hygiene Management: Each Partner State shall establish menstrual health spaces that are clean, safe and dignified in all health facilities, schools and other public facilities.
- Sexual Reproductive healthcare for men: Each Partner State shall offer provider-initiated information and develop programs that include reproductive health care services for men; for instance screening and treatment of disorders of the male reproductive system including sexual dysfunctions, infertility, urological diseases
- Integration of sexual and reproductive health services in Partner States universal health coverage: Some of the SRH services that will be highly welcomed are prevention, screening and treatment for reproductive cancers including cervical cancer, breast cancer, testicular and prostate cancer.
- Sexual and reproductive health services for older persons and the elderly, including physical as well as psychological rehabilitative measures aimed at maintaining the functionality and autonomy of older persons.
- Pre-conception, pre-natal, delivery and post-natal health care:Every Partner State shall integrate and include pre-conception, pre-natal, delivery and post-natal health care services in their universal health coverage programmes, including – services relating to mental health and post-partum complications associated with child birth.
- Regulation of assisted reproductive technologies. Every Partner State shall regulate the use of assisted reproductive technologies to ensure that assisted reproductive services provided in the public and private sector are lawful, safe and effective. This will help anyone who wants to have children and unable to get due to reasons such as infertility amongst others. Access and availability of information on surrogacy will be guaranteed within the Bill.
- On issues around Termination of Pregnancy; A woman may terminate a pregnancy if in the opinion of a health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, the pregnancy endangers the mental or physical health or life of the woman, in the case of sexual assault, rape, incest or as may be permitted by the law of a Partner State. Access to health and life-saving post abortion care and treatment is also guaranteed to anyone who will require the service and the information.
- Prohibition of Harmful Practices that include child marriage, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, forced or coerced sterilization will be key to ensure that we are not loosing adolescents and young people to harmful practices.
- Reporting and monitoring of provision of sexual and reproductive health services: Each partner State shall every two years, report to the Secretary General the sexual and reproductive health services provided by that Partner State and the status of implementation of the provisions of this Act. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDBpgZbS6P4
Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Youth Expert