Our World at 7 Billion: Universal Access
In several countries throughout the world, poverty, stigma, and legal restrictions severely limit people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, such as contraception, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and counseling on options when facing an unintended pregnancy. The need couldn’t be greater. Some 2.5 million adolescents have unsafe abortions every year worldwide. In Latin America, recent figures estimate that 48 percent of sexually active young women have an unmet need for contraception.
IPPF/WHR believes that all people have the right to sexual and reproductive health services provided in a safe and confidential environment. “Universal access to reproductive health is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” says Dr. Carmen Barroso, Regional Director. Universal access refers to an array of services, including comprehensive sexuality education, contraception, maternal care, emergency obstetric care, counseling and testing for HIV and other STIs, care and support to victims of sexual violence, and safe abortion services. Youth-friendly services help empower and inform young people to take control of their sexual health and prevent unsafe abortion and unintended pregnancy.
Since 1990, the Fundación para la Salud del Adolescente (FUSA), the IPPF/WHR Member Association in Argentina, has been a leading provider of high-quality reproductive health services in Latin America. Each year the organization sees approximately 15,000 adolescents and around 75 percent of them are young women. Built on the two pillars of confidentiality and privacy, FUSA’s adolescent service model teaches young people to be autonomous decision-makers, who exercise their rights and take responsibility for their bodies and sexual choices.
Valeria is one of those young people. She never received sexuality education at school and her parents never talked to her about sex, but she suspected she might be pregnant after missing her period.
Valeria wasn’t ready to be a parent. She went to FUSA and the doctor discussed the options for facing an unwanted pregnancy. The doctor explained that while there are safe methods for ending a pregnancy, abortion is not permitted in Argentina given Valeria’s circumstances. However, she would counsel her on the various procedures and the risks associated with each one as well as provide follow-up health services. Most importantly, the doctor made sure Valeria understood that this was her decision. FUSA would support whatever choice she made.
Valeria returned to FUSA a few days later after safely using medication to end her pregnancy. She scheduled an appointment for a gynecological exam, and after receiving family planning counseling, she took the condoms offered to her—for the future. She left the clinic empowered, knowing she could make informed decisions about her body and her life and she had the right to information and confidential services.
IPPF/WHR Universal Access Resources: