Navigating the Market Landscape of STI Treatment

Insights from a Survey of South African Women

Authors: Mrs Yashmita Naidoo CEO of HIV SA, Dr Venessa Timmerman (PhD) and Mr Siraaj Adams (MBA, MPH)

HIVSA is an NGO that commissioned the national survey.

 

Introduction

According to research, South Africa has the highest prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) in Africa. In 2017, there were an estimated 6 million new CT, 4.5 million NG and 71,000 Treponema pallidum infections among South African men and women of reproductive age(1).

In our recent market survey conducted in South Africa, we aimed to gain a deeper understanding of the sexual health practices, preferences, and treatment experiences of female respondents aged between 20 and 35. An online survey was conducted targeting 500 female respondents in the 20 to 35 age group and 469 responses were received. This exploration focused on assessing the current landscape for sexually transmitted infection (STI) treatment, shedding light on awareness, accessibility, and the evolving preferences of young women.

 

Understanding Sexual Health Practices

Our respondents provided a comprehensive view of sexual health practices among South African women in the specified age range. The survey explored key aspects, including the prevalence of casual sexual partners, awareness of STI treatment facilities, and the frequency of STI treatment.

 

Key Survey Findings

  1. Casual Sexual Partners

Approximately 33% of respondents reported having confirmed some form of casual sexual partnership (including friends with benefits, multiple casual partnerships, situationships and open relationships), highlighting the diversity of sexual health preferences within this demographic.

 

  1. Awareness of STI Treatment Facilities

A commendable 90% of respondents indicated awareness of where to receive STI treatment, suggesting successful dissemination of information regarding available treatment facilities.

  1. STI Treatment Uptake

Over 23% of respondents confirmed receiving STI treatment, signalling a proactive approach to seeking medical intervention when faced with STIs. The disparity between 90% of participants having been tested for an STI compared to only 23% receiving treatment may indicate a need to research barriers to STI treatments more in-depth.

  1. Commonly Treated STIs

Specific STIs treated included 48% for urinary tract infections, 10% for chlamydia, 8% for genital warts, and 7% for gonorrhoea, providing valuable insights into the prevalence of different STIs.

  1. Preference for Treatment Delivery

A notable 47.8% of respondents expressed a preference for receiving STI treatment or treatment delivery at home. This inclination suggests a growing demand for convenient and discreet healthcare options.

  1. Online Consultation Preference

Significantly, 54.8% of respondents expressed a preference for online consultations for their STI treatment. This finding underscores the evolving dynamics in healthcare preferences, emphasizing the need for innovative solutions to meet the demands of a changing telehealth landscape.

  1. **Sexual Activity Frequency

More than 65% of respondents reported engaging in sexual activity either daily or weekly, highlighting the importance of accessible and timely STI treatment services to support the sexual health of this demographic.

Implications and Considerations

Although research has shown that a high percentage of sexually active people in SA understand the importance of condom use, there is still a need to emphasise better STI screening and management strategies (1).

The Choma survey findings carry implications for healthcare providers and policymakers. While the high awareness and treatment uptake is positive, efforts should continue to ensure accessibility and address potential barriers to seeking treatment.

Untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can lead to significant morbidity, particularly among women, resulting in complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, pregnancy complications, and newborn infections. Additionally, STIs can induce genital inflammation and increase the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission, even in asymptomatic cases. The majority of STIs occur in low- and middle-income countries, with sub-Saharan Africa bearing the highest burden in terms of age-standardized incidence rates and disability-adjusted life years lost. In southern Africa, there’s a notable epidemiologic overlap between curable STIs and HIV, especially among adolescents and young adults who face the highest risk of STI acquisition and have the highest HIV incidence rates. Therefore, improved diagnosis and treatment of curable STIs are crucial in reducing morbidity and are integral components of multimodal HIV prevention efforts(2).

The expressed preferences for home-based treatment delivery and online consultations emphasize the need for innovative and flexible healthcare solutions to cater to the evolving needs and preferences of the population.

 

Conclusion

Our survey provides valuable insights into the current state of STI treatment awareness, preferences, and practices among young South African women. The identified preferences for home-based treatment delivery and online consultations underscore the importance of adapting healthcare services to meet the evolving needs of the population.

 

References

  1. Harryparsad R, Meyer B, Taku O, Serrano M, Chen PL, Gao X, Williamson AL, Mehou-Loko C, d’Hellencourt FL, Smit J, Strauss J, Nanda K, Ahmed K, Beksinska M, Buck G, Morrison C, Deese J, Masson L. Prevalence and incidence of sexually transmitted infections among South African women initiating injectable and long-acting contraceptives. PLoS One. 2023 Nov 10;18(11):e0294285. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0294285. PMID: 37948399; PMCID: PMC10637674.
  2. Jarolimova, Jana MD, MPH; Chidumwa, Glory PhD; Chimbindi, Natsayi PhD; Okesola, Nonhlanhla BSN; Dreyer, Jaco NDipIT; Smit, Theresa PhD; Seeley, Janet PhD; Harling, Guy ScD; Copas, Andrew PhD; Baisley, Kathy MSc; Shahmanesh, Maryam PhD; the Isisekelo Research Group; Herbst, (Carina MSc; McGrath, Nuala ScD; Zuma, Thembelihle PhD; Khoza, Thandeka MBChB; Behuhuma, Ngundu MBChB; Bassett, Ingrid V. MD, MPH; Sherr, Lorraine PhD). Prevalence of Curable Sexually Transmitted Infections in a Population-Representative Sample of Young Adults in a High HIV Incidence Area in South Africa. Sexually Transmitted Diseases 50(12):p 796-803, December 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000001871

Unveiling the Landscape of HIV Self-Testing in South Africa

A Comprehensive Survey Analysis

Authors: Mrs Yashmita Naidoo (CEO of HIVSA), Dr Venessa Timmerman (PHD) and Mr Siraaj Adams (MBA, MPH).

HIVSA is an NGO that commissioned the national survey.

 

Introduction

HIV testing is the first step in linkage to HIV care, including prevention or treatment services. The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS has set interim 95-95-95 targets: that 95% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 95% of these are to be initiated onto antiretroviral treatment (ART), and that 95% of these should be virally suppressed by the end of 2030(1). Alternative HIV testing strategies are needed to overcome barriers to traditional clinic-based testing; HIV self-testing (HST) is one modality that offers promise in reaching individuals who experience barriers to clinic-based testing.

In December 2023, HIVSA conducted a comprehensive survey targeting 500 female respondents in South Africa, aged between 20 and 35 years. An important objective of the survey was to assess the current landscape of HIV self-testing in the country. With representation from all nine provinces, this survey delved into crucial aspects of awareness, testing patterns, and the potential acceptance of online purchase options for HIV testing kits.

 

Method

A survey was created digitally and hosted on the Choma website, comprising of the following categories: personal details, e-commerce habits, financial wellness, sexual and reproductive health, family planning and health and wellness. Each category was presented as a separate page, with a progress bar to indicate how much of the survey had been completed.

All survey submissions were saved and stored in a cloud-based platform for our data analyst to generate a report from, and our marketing team to track submission numbers. Once we had identified a plateau or slowing of survey submissions, we generated reports from 469 submissions.

Our survey submission collection period was from the 27th of December 2023 to the 15th of January 2024, when it was observed that survey submissions had slowed significantly.

 

Key Survey Findings

  1. Understanding the RespondentsHIV self testing survey demographics
  2. Description of Participants based on the Graph

Our diverse pool of respondents provided a holistic representation of South African women in the specified age group. Their insights offer a valuable snapshot of the prevailing attitudes and behaviours related to HIV testing.

  1. Willingness to Purchase Online

Notably, 52.4% of the respondents expressed a willingness to purchase HIV testing kits online. This finding underscores a growing openness to utilizing online platforms for obtaining essential healthcare resources.

HIV self testing survey online purchase

  1. Awareness of HIV Status

A staggering 91.4% of respondents reported being aware of their HIV status. This high level of awareness is a positive indicator of the effectiveness of existing HIV awareness and testing initiatives in South Africa.

Awareness of HIV status

  1. HIV Testing Patterns

Over 60% of respondents revealed that they had undergone HIV testing within the last three months. The frequency in testing pattern is encouraging and suggests a proactive approach to monitoring one’s health status.

HIV testing patterns

  1. Regional Representation

Our survey reached respondents across all nine provinces in South Africa, ensuring a geographically diverse sample. The inclusion of perspectives from different regions enhances the reliability and applicability of our findings, considering the diverse healthcare landscape in South Africa.

Survey respondent locations

  1. Online Purchase and Accessibility

The willingness of 52.4% of the respondents to buy HIV testing kits online indicates a potential shift in the accessibility and distribution of essential healthcare tools. This trend aligns with the global movement toward digital health solutions, emphasizing convenience and privacy.

 

  1. The Significance of HIV Awareness

The exceptionally high rate of HIV awareness (91%) among our respondents showcases the effectiveness of awareness campaigns and healthcare education in South Africa. It suggests that efforts to destigmatize HIV testing and encourage regular screenings have made a positive impact.

 

  1. Encouraging Proactive Healthcare

The finding that over 60% of respondents have undergone HIV testing in the last three months reflects a proactive and responsible approach to healthcare. Regular testing is crucial for early detection and timely intervention, contributing to overall public health improvement.

 

Conclusion

Research in 2020, found that the vast majority (95%) of young women chose HIVST over clinic-based HCT.

The insights gained from our survey paint a promising picture of the state of HIV self-testing awareness and practices among South African women aged 20 to 35. The data reveals a willingness to embrace online avenues for purchasing testing kits, a high level of HIV awareness, and a commendable commitment to regular testing. These findings not only shed light on the current landscape but also provide valuable information for shaping future healthcare policies and interventions related to HIV testing in South Africa. As we move forward, it is imperative to build upon these positive trends, ensuring continued accessibility and acceptance of online healthcare platforms.

 

References:

  1. UNAIDS. Understanding fast-track targets. Accelerating action to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 [document on the Internet]. UNAIDS, 2015. [cited September 28, 2021]; p. 12. Available from: https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/201506_JC2743_Understanding_FastTrack_en.pdf [Google Scholar]
  2. Audrey Pettifor, HIV self-testing among young women in rural South Africa: A randomized controlled trial comparing clinic-based HIV testing to the choice of either clinic testing or HIV self-testing with secondary distribution to peers and partners. 2020

Living With Diabetes: How To Take Care Of Yourself

Living healthily with diabetes is all about managing your blood sugar levels. Think of it like maintaining the perfect playlist on your favourite streaming service. We’re here to help you rock those tunes, not go all shuffle mode on your body. Here are some tips to help you embrace your youthful energy while effectively managing your diabetes:

Manage your stress.

  • Your blood sugar may increase under stress. You can try to manage your stress by doing something relaxing like deep breathing, gardening, walking, meditating, working on a hobby, or listening to your favourite music.
  • If you are going through a stressful time, you might feel better if you talk to a mental health professional or a loved one who will listen to your worries.

Eat well.

  • With the help of your healthcare team, create a diabetes meal plan.
  • Stick to a balanced and nutritious diet. Focus on complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Be mindful of portion sizes and manage your carbohydrate intake.
  • Drink water instead of juice and regular soda.

Be active.

  • Walk more. Start by walking from work, school or even to your local shops.
  • Work on building up your muscle strength. Try push-ups, yoga, active gardening (digging and planting with tools) or stretch exercises at least twice a week.
  • Use your diet plan and increase your level of physical activity to maintain or reach a healthy weight.

Have a daily routine.

  • Take your medication even when you feel well.
  • Check your feet daily for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling. Report any wounds that don’t heal to your healthcare provider.
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels.
  • Report any changes in your health.

Live Your Life Fully 🎉

Diabetes is a part of your story, but it doesn’t have to steal the show. You’re the main character, and life’s full of exciting experiences. So, embrace it, live it, and remember, you’re the hero in your own story.

Choma, although managing diabetes can be a lifelong process, you can live a healthy and meaningful life if you have the correct tools and methods. Diabetes is a serious condition but, it’s manageable. People with diabetes need to take their medication even when they feel well, stay active, and make healthy food choices. It might not be easy, but it’s worth it!

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, an  Instagram message, a  Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Tips: How To Handle Year-End Fatigue

As the year winds down, many of us start to feel the effects of year-end fatigue. It’s like a slow burnout that’s hard to avoid, especially when we’re juggling work and personal life. By the time we get to the end of the year, we’re drained and finding it hard to concentrate. But don’t worry, I’ve got 5 easy tips to help you fight this fatigue and finish the year strong!

  1. Watch your health.

We all get busy from time to time and it’s easy to put our health on the back burner. But it’s super important to take care of ourselves. To do that, make sure you’re getting enough sleep (at least 7-8 hours a night), eating healthy foods, getting some exercise, and avoiding excessive drinking or smoking. Your body will thank you for it!

  1. Don’t over-exert yourself.

The end of the year can be a crazy time for most people. It’s easy to get overloaded and feel like you’re running on empty. To avoid burnout, it’s important to take a step back, prioritize your tasks, and give yourself some much-needed downtime. This way, you’ll be able to make it through the end of the year without feeling completely wiped out.

  1. Spend time with family and friends.

Hanging out with family and friends is a really good way to chill out and de-stress. Did you know that when you’re feeling stressed, spending time with loved ones can help lower the amount of cortisol (a hormone linked to stress) in your body?

  1. Budget

You know how expensive the festive season can get, right? Well, the last thing you want is to start the new year with an empty wallet. To avoid this, why not plan a festive budget ahead of time? You could even suggest a shared gifting budget with your loved ones, or just set a budget per gift to keep your spending in check. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t overspend and can still enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank!

  1. Reflect

It’s always a good idea to look back and think about what went well and what didn’t over the past year. It can help you figure out what you want to achieve in the coming year.

Remember that if you’re feeling overwhelmed with end-of-year burnout, it’s totally okay to ask for help. Lean on your loved ones and don’t be afraid to reach out. You don’t have to go through this alone.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

How To Take Care Of Your Nails In Six Easy Steps

Whether you’re someone who is always painting their nails at home or getting them done at the salon as a form of self-care or have the bad habit of biting them, we all wish we could have perfectly manicured nails. Here are a few tips on how you can take care of your nails:

Keep your hands very clean.

A good start to achieving those healthy nails is by making sure you are washing your hands properly. Make sure you scrub your nails to avoid infections and overgrowth.

Be gentle on your nails.

Your nails are delicate, so treat them that way. Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals. If you can’t avoid it, you can buy some rubber gloves that you can use while cleaning or washing dishes.

Cut your nails regularly.

Cutting your nails often makes them less prone to breakage. So, aim to cut them every two weeks.

Prioritize nail health over length.

Long nails are elegant, but if you’re someone who struggles with breakages, keep your nails short once in a while to help them grow stronger.

Give your nails a break.

We all love getting our nails done. However, make sure that you give your nails a break by getting them done once every two months so that you don’t damage your nail bed.

Do some home care.

If you will be doing your own nails at home, remember that you will have to use a base coat. You can get a base coat at Clicks, Dischem or most shops that have nail care products.

Remember that taking care of your nails can help prevent infection and other health problems. Keeping your nails looking nice can boost your confidence and help you feel put together.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Why Is Your Sexual and Reproductive Health Important?

Young people need to pay close attention to reproductive health issues. The word “reproductive health” generally means the health and well-being of both men and women regarding sexuality, pregnancy, birth, and related problems. In this article, concerns about pregnancy and STIs, particularly HIV, are the main topics.

Let’s talk about the importance of understanding sexual and reproductive health. Talking about sexual and reproductive health is looked down upon in several societies. Two major issues facing young people in many countries are teenage pregnancies and a high percentage of HIV infections. However, nothing is done to address the underlying issue. Therefore, turning the wheel now requires action.

Health issues can result from sexual and reproductive health neglect:

  • For females in the fertile age range, difficulties with reproductive health are a major cause of chronic illness and death.
  • Lack of SRH (Sexual and Reproductive Health) knowledge during puberty for teenagers can cause a variety of problems and prevent healthy emotional, physical, and mental growth.
  • Unsafe abortion during pregnancy can cause permanent damage to a young woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult for them to have children in future.
  • Due to ignorance and lack of information, there is an increase in STI cases among disadvantaged female young people.
  • Unsafe sexual activity is common among youth. As a result, unwanted pregnancies, early births, STIs including HIV/AIDS, and unsafe abortions occur. Young people frequently experience sexual assault or exploitation, especially women. These dangers have the potential to have negative physical, psychological, social, and financial effects.

Why is it important to learn about sexual and reproductive health?

An individual’s total health, particularly their sexual and reproductive health, is important. Sexual and reproductive health education is therefore very important for young people. The following are the key goals of SRH education:

  • Any teenager can learn about their reproductive system during puberty with the use of SRH information.
  • It raises youths’ understanding of safe sexual behaviour.
  • The SRH training provides education in the prevention of STIs like HIV, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and HPV infection.
  • It encourages a safe pregnancy and delivery and protects against viral infections for both the mother and baby.
  • A complete understanding of early pregnancy, birth control options, pregnancy care, postpartum care for the mother and child, infertility, and many other topics is provided via SRH education.

Sexually transmitted illnesses like HIV might spread as a result of a lack of sexual and reproductive health care. Therefore Chomas, the total physical, mental, and social well-being of a person’s reproductive system and sexual health at all phases of life is referred to as sexual and reproductive health. It includes things like safe sex, the ability to choose one’s own sexual partners, awareness of various contraception options, and reproductive ability. Take care and always be safe.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, an  Instagram message, a  Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

How To Promote Your Oral Health

Your oral health is more important than you might realize. It’s important to understand how the health of your mouth, teeth and gums can affect your general health.

Any dental care routine must include brushing your teeth. It ensures a healthier, brighter, and more hygienic smile. If left untreated, plaque, bacteria, gum disease, and a wide range of other dental problems can begin to form on the teeth.

Here are five tips to keep in mind:

  1. Wait 30 minutes after a meal before brushing your teeth.
  2. Brush your teeth twice a day.
  3. Brush your teeth every morning.
  4. After fluoride treatment, avoid hot drinks and sticky foods.

Steps for perfect brushing routine:

  1. Use a soft-bristled brush.
  2. Clean the outer surfaces of teeth (upper and lower).
  3. Clean the inner surfaces of teeth (upper and lower).
  4. Brush your tongue.
  5. Clean chewing surfaces (upper and lower).

Applying these tips results in the best brushing routine.

Gum disease and other oral health issues could be symptoms of more serious health issues. Plaque, a thick bacterial layer that develops on your teeth, is an illness that leads to gum diseases. Plaque bacteria have the power to damage the bone and tissue surrounding your teeth if left untreated, which could result in tooth loss. Your body may become infected by the germs, which could make you ill.

Here are 8 tips on how you can safeguard your dental health:

  1. Maintain flossing and brushing every day to maintain your dental health.
  2. At least twice every day, spend two minutes brushing your teeth. Fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush should be used.
  3. Always floss.
  4. After brushing and flossing, use mouthwash to remove any leftover food still in your mouth.
  5. Eat healthily and avoid unhealthy foods and beverages.
  6. Every three to four months, or earlier if the teeth become damaged or spread, you should replace the toothbrush you use.
  7. Plan regular dental cleanings and checkups at the dentist.
  8. Avoid smoking cigarettes.

Choma, did you know that problems with your mouth can influence the rest of your physical well-being or that your oral health may give information about your general health? Learn more about your dental health to keep yourself healthy.

Any problems with your dental health should also be reported to your dentist right away. An investment in your overall health means taking care of your dental health.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, an  Instagram message, a  Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Struggling To Keep Fit? Here Are Some Easy Workouts

Did you know that you don’t need a gym membership to stay fit and healthy this winter? There are many at-home exercises to ensure we stick to our fitness journey all year round. Here’s a few to try out:

Jump Rope

You can buy a skipping rope or use any rope at home for this one. The key is to start small; you can skip for 2 minutes when you start out. After 2 weeks you can push to 5 minutes or more. All you need to do is put a timer on and count how many jumps you make in that time.

Stair Stepping

Stair stepping is a great exercise to do in your home, even if you don’t have a set of stairs available. Find the biggest book you own (or a sturdy chair), put it in front of the TV, and step up and down while watching your favorite show. You may not work up a sweat like you would with a jump rope, but you will be keeping your body active and healthy.

The Plank

If you don’t have much time but want to build up your core muscles, this is the exercise for you. Get into a push-up position, but instead of bending your arms and moving down towards the floor, hold the position with your arms extended. Start off by holding the position for 30 seconds and add an additional 10 seconds every week.

Dancing

Dancing is an excellent way to burn calories and get your heart rate going while having fun. If you are in the privacy of your own home, there is no need to look like a pro. You can watch dancing exercises here.

Cleaning

Do not underestimate the power of the physical strength needed when cleaning. All the sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping is a lot of work and it’s enough to keep your heart rate up and sweating.

Water Bottle Weights

If you are looking to do some arm, shoulder, and back strength training, you can make your own weights by filling up water bottles. If using water bottles becomes too easy, use milk jugs. You can modify the exercise to your level by filling the jugs with water to the exact weight that you need. For a greater challenge, increase the water amount just a little bit each time you work out.

High Knee

This is a good replacement for running. To do this exercise, march in place or down a hall, and bring your knees as high as they can go.

YouTube Workouts

There’s a lot of workout routines on YouTube. You can find any kind of workout you want, and it’s a good chance to learn other forms of fun workouts such as yogapilatesstretch bend workoutcardio, and more.

When it comes to workouts, trying out a variety of workouts can help you understand more about your body, and what you like and don’t like. The most important thing is staying consistent Choma. Best of luck!

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

What Is Family Planning And What Are The benefits?

You might have wondered what the big fuss around family planning is about. Family planning is all about helping individuals determine when and if they want to have children by providing them with the necessary knowledge, resources, and procedures. It includes a variety of contraceptives and barrier techniques, such as condoms, and methods like abstinence.

What services are there for family planning?

Primary healthcare clinics across the country provide access to family planning, including free contraceptives and counselling.

Who is family planning for?

All women, men, and teenagers have access to family planning.

Benefits of family planning

  • Preventing health risks

Family planning allows for planning pregnancies and can postpone pregnancies for women at a higher risk of health problems and death from childbirth.

  • Prevent HIV/AIDS​

Family planning lowers the likelihood of unplanned pregnancy and the transmission of HIV/AIDS among women with the use of the dual method, resulting in fewer infected newborns and orphans.

  • Empowering people

People can make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health with the help of family planning.

  • Reducing teenage pregnancies

Young women who are not ready to have children have the option to protect themselves from an unplanned pregnancy.

Access to family planning is a human right, and if you want to avoid unplanned pregnancy and learn more about family planning and contraception, go to your local clinic and chat with a nurse who can help you, or send me a DM.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message , a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

The Importance Behind International Day of Action for Women’s Health

What is the day of action for women’s health?

The Day of Action for Women’s Health (also known as International Women’s Health Day) is celebrated on the 28th of May each year, women, and health organizations globally to educate people about women’s health and rights. The main objective of the day is to raise awareness of the issues related to women’s health and wellbeing like sexual reproductive health and health in general.

These include women’s rights to their bodies, body, my choice, to health, as well as to equality and non-discrimination. So why Is the day important?

It advocates for sexual reproductive health.

This day gives women more information about sexual and reproductive rights and control over their reproductive health. It encompasses the right to positive and healthy relationships, and health services that are accessible, safe, and equitable. Each year, women and health organizations can focus on topics affecting women that are left uncovered. Such examples include access to quality healthcare, HIV/AIDS and how it affects women, access to contraceptives, access to safe and legal terminations, how governments can do more to ensure women are safe, and so on. Some of these topics are usually considered taboo. But we can have open and honest conversations on this day.

It educates on the different life stages of women.

We understand that different life stages of women connect to various aspects of their sexual and reproductive health — this includes the menstrual cycle, the ability to become pregnant, safe sex practices to avoid sexually transmitted infections and chronic health issues (such as polycystic ovary syndrome), and the menopausal transition. Knowledge of sexual and reproductive health helps in preventing unwanted and high-risk pregnancies, such knowledge, as well as prenatal and postnatal care, saves women’s lives daily because not many women are aware of such information.

It’s essential to improve the overall wellbeing of women.

 Improved health for women can also help to strengthen their own agency and empowerment. Healthy women and girls are more able to actively participate in society and take collective action to advance their own interests, taking up spaces, increasing self-esteem to become the best version of themselves, and making them aware that they oversee their bodies and decide what can and cannot happen to it.

Remember that empowering women and girls to make informed choices when it comes to their bodies is one of the most effective pathways to improve health outcomes as well as to reach their full potential.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message,  an  Instagram message , a  Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).