Removing Taboos: Sexual Reproductive Health in Slums
There are currently 220 million women worldwide who want but don’t have access to effective methods of contraception and family planning services. Reproductive health is important at both the family level and the national level: by reducing health care costs, infant mortality, adolescent pregnancies and unsafe abortions, families can invest in the children they choose to have, and the nation’s population growth rate slows. Access to family planning resources is especially crucial in cities, where the effects of rapid urbanization in addition to population growth present additional challenges. Read on to learn about family planning solutions in Jakarta, São Paulo, Mexico City, and Mumbai.
Jakarta’s government-led family planning services are prime examples of Indonesia’s longstanding national family planning program, which aims to improve reproductive health in addition to limiting population growth. One of the national strategies is to hire neighborhood family planning officers who spread information about available resources and encourage changes in behavior. The city government of Jakarta has gone a step further by creating an SMS service that allows residents, especially those in poorer communities, to text message questions to family planning authorities who will then send medical workers to help with the issue. The government also runs community empowerment and family planning buses, which provide mobile reproductive health services and contraceptives across five of Jakarta’s municipalities.
São Paulo’s public health network operates over 400 health centers that make reproductive health information and support available to the city’s more than 2 million women of childbearing age. São Paulo’s extensive reproductive health services stem from Brazil’s legal recognition of family planning as a right for all women since the mid-1990s. The government has invested in programs like the National Family Planning Policy, which promotes the distribution of free condoms and strengthens educational campaigns that target adolescents. Additionally, eight different contraceptive methods are currently offered for free through Brazil’s Single Health System. And most importantly, local health agents are on hand to provide free information at health centers and home visits so that people can learn more about their family planning options.
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