Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Family Planning launched its latest international research* in Wellington this morning, exploring knowledge, access and barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in rural Vanuatu. The report was presented to stakeholders and interested parties, including the Vanuatu High Commission and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and demonstrates the need for continued investment in SRHR in rural areas of Vanuatu:
“It is widely acknowledged that investing in the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of individuals will lead to improvements in health, development and economic outcomes. Vanuatu faces a range of persistent SRHR challenges. These challenges include low levels of SRHR knowledge, limited access to family planning services and inconsistent availability of contraceptives. For the large proportion of the population who live in the remote and geographically dispersed areas of the country, these challenges are more pronounced compared to their urban counterparts.”
To better understand these challenges, Family Planning’s researcher worked with the Vanuatu Family Health Association to talk to communities in the rural area of Big Bay Bush in Espiritu Santo. Interviews included in-depth conversations with women who shared personal stories such as childbirth, using family planning and intimate relationships.
The research resulted in the following seven recommendations for improving SRHR and therefore development outcomes in rural Vanuatu:
- Develop educational programmes to increase knowledge and awareness of SRHR, including family planning methods and the spread of STIs with tailored programmes for young people and married couples.
- Create family planning promotion messages that dispel myths and misinformation about modern contraceptive methods.
- Design programmes on healthy relationships, consent and gender-based violence tailored for men, women, young people and service providers.
- Develop training programmes for young people to become SRHR peer educators so that they can communicate their knowledge to others in their community.
- Improve access to health facilities and explore new strategies to increase access to services in rural Vanuatu including mobile clinics and home visitations.
- Prioritise making a wide variety of SRHR commodities consistently available throughout Vanuatu, focusing on rural communities.
- Conduct training with service providers on how to provide high-quality, non-judgemental sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care.
These recommendations, together with the full report, were presented to stakeholders in Vanuatu, including the Ministry of Health and chiefs from Big Bay Bush, in June this year. Read the report.
*The research was conducted under the Planem Gud Family Blong Yumi project. This project, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is delivered in partnership with the Vanuatu Family Health Association and aims to increase access to reduce unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmissible infections in North Santo, Torres and Gaua, and South Pentecost.