Kisumu has envisioned a County in which all individuals and persons living with disability (PWD) in the communities have the opportunity to reach their highest potential in all sectors.
Recognizing that gender is a variable in support of human development, County government of Kisumu strive to localize measures being taken to improve gender relations by promoting men’s understanding of their familial and social roles in family planning and sexual and reproductive health issues.
The gender analysis dialogue held at Ahero in Nyando Sub County, brought together key stakeholders including, state and county gender officers, Sub County health workers, education officers, teachers and the business community to deliberate on family planning as a component of Reproductive and Maternal Newborns Care and Adolescent Health (RAMNCAH) with development of male engagement focusing on disability as one of key recommendations and action points to clearly help define strategies of reaching male clients and partners for reproductive health-related services through multi-sectoral collaboration.
The meeting organized by Afya Halisi, a USAID program in collaboration with County directorate of gender and health department provided an opportunity for brainstorming on male involvement in health matters.
Traditionally, health care providers and researchers in the field of reproductive health have focused almost exclusively on women when planning programs and services. However, efforts have been made to broaden men’s responsibility for their reproductive health as well as male involvement in reproductive health for female partners living with disability.
According to director gender Adah Omedi, the enactment of Kisumu County Persons with Disability Act (2016), which recognizes health, norms, economic empowerment, roles and relations as key determinants of the well-being of PWDs across sectors, provides for the rights and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. Mrs. Omedi stressed that Disability is a gender issue and that Kisumu county is recognized as the first county to ratify the Disability Act of 2016.
“Due to the higher vulnerability to health concerns, PWDs have the same health needs as every other member of the population, including immunization, screening, sexual and reproductive health, and all other aspects of regular healthcare.” Said Mrs. Omedi.
Health is a disability rights issue, which is why Article 25 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sets out the normative framework which should govern disabled people’s access to healthcare. More importantly, is sexual and reproductive health (SRH) which is an essential component of health and a pillar for sustainable development. However, there is good evidence that the SRH needs of people living with disabilities have been neglected for decades because of the widespread view that they are not sexually active.
While it goes without saying that people with disability have equal rights to sexual and reproductive desires and hopes as non-disabled people, society has disregarded their sexuality and reproductive concerns, aspirations and human rights.
The 2 day training recommended special efforts that will emphasize men’s shared responsibility and promote their active involvement in responsible parenthood, sexual and reproductive behavior including family planning; prenatal, maternal child health; prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV; prevention of unwanted and high-risk pregnancies; shared control and contribution to family income, children’s education, health and nutrition; recognition and promotion of the equal value of children of both sexes.
Discussion of health needs of PWD should take into account improved technologies, health and social care that are increasingly available to people with different impairments.
The team also suggested that male responsibilities in family life must be included in the education of children from the earliest ages adding that Special emphasis should be placed on the prevention of violence against women and children.
The above challenge calls for more intense efforts to foster partnerships between men and women which help men identify with the magnitude and range of reproductive illnesses which affect women.
By Matilda Atieno