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Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health & Rights
Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health & Rights program works with communities, local partners and governments globally to improve sexual, reproductive, maternal & child health and rights among people living in vulnerable situations.
Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health (SRMCH) and Rights are important components of the health and wellbeing of women, families, and communities. Access to adequate, affordable, and respectful SRMCH services is often limited especially for people living in vulnerable situations. Despite global improvements to SRMCH and rights, women and children still suffer from largely preventable health issues that have lifelong consequences, such as infection and malnutrition.
The health of women during the reproductive years has an impact on the lifelong health of women, infants and children. HealthBridge works to address the root causes of SRMCH and rights issues, many of which are linked to gender inequality. We recognize how gender inequality shapes and divides child care, labour, decision-making and power dynamics in relationships between men and women in families and in society. Despite strides towards gender equality that have been made in the past decades, women still have poorer access to formal education and economic opportunities, and they lack decision making power, compared to men. Ultimately, gender inequality denies women opportunities to improve their own health and their families’ health.
While SRMCH is often viewed as a women’s issue, HealthBridge recognizes the important role that men can play in improving the health of their families. Men often receive little information and education about SRMCH, yet they can have a positive influence on SRMCH when they are engaged in the SRMCH of their partners and their families. Knowledge can lead to engagement and men can play an important role in ensuring women’s access to health services, decision-making power, and economic opportunities, in addition to reducing gender-based violence.
The work we do in addressing SRMCH and rights among people living in vulnerable situations has resulted in key improvements to SRMCH and rights around the globe. To address the root causes of SRMCH and rights issues, we work closely with communities to make systemic changes, through research, education, building local capacity, and strengthening health systems. With our partners in Nepal, we supported health facilities to update and make improvements to their infrastructure. As a result, maternal healthcare facilities are now better equipped to safely deliver health services, including controlling and preventing infections. In Tanzania, we worked with local partners and communities in the Iringa Region to form, mobilize, and empower women’s groups. Members of women’s groups play an important role in raising awareness among local men and women about maternal and child health and the importance of antenatal care. Women’s groups not only enhanced community awareness about maternal and child health, but also contributed to increasing timely antenatal care visits in their communities. Our work in rural, remote, and ethnic minority communities in Vietnam building capacity among local female village health workers and ethnic minority midwives led to significant improvements in the proportion of women and newborns who received timely maternal and newborn health services. Increased engagement of men in SRMCH and rights in remote areas of Son La province, Vietnam, for example through educational videos and group education sessions, resulted in increased access to and use of maternal health services among women.