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Pass the East African Community SRH Bill to Achieve Positive Health outcomes

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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.

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 was introduced to the East African Legislative Assembly in June 2021 and is sponsored by Hon. Kennedy Mukulia Ayason (South Sudan).

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.

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The East Africa Community (EAC) Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill is a progressive bill with numerous gains to all citizens of the region. The bill aims at preventing unnecessary deaths for mothers, promoting safe motherhood, educating the youth and giving better quality reproductive health services to all.

The proposed law is respectful of traditional cultural values, recognizes the role of parental guidance, includes pivotal roles for religious institutions and is in compliance with all the legal regulations of all six states.

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Some of the social, reproductive and health issues that young people in Kenya and with the East Africa are facing include little or no access to free range and affordable contraceptive information and services such as condoms; high rates of adolescents and teenage pregnancy; lack of information on menstruation health management (MHM); lack of education on sex and sexuality; no access to safe abortion for sexual violence survivors or post abortion care; drug and substance abuse; HIV/AIDDs, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unavailable ante-natal care (ANC) services, harmful practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage as wells as sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) including child abuse.

When the EAC SRH Bill is passed, the member states will be mandated to ensure investment and implementation of diverse programs that aim to reach out to the Adolescents and young people on various SRHR issues. Issues like Return to School for pregnant Adolescents will be actualized through development of programs and policies that will be effected into the different states and implementation enforced.

Prohibition of Harmful Practices that include child marriage, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, forced or coerced sterilization that are rampant in some of the states within the region will be prioritized to ensure that we are not loosing adolescents and young people to harmful practices.

One of the key things to the young people including CSOs will be Reporting and monitoring of provision of sexual and reproductive health services which will be one of the process that we continue to hold our governments to account, 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.

Anthony Njuguna

Sexual Reproductive Health Advocate

VIDEO OF THE DAY; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brBc-pIgLPg

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