June 21, 2024
Equity VoiceRethinking Social Justice through gender and disability justice

Universal Health Coverage – Opportunities & gaps in sexual reproductive health rights & maternal health for women with disabilities in Kenya

Kenya has made numerous global and regional commitments to promote health including Abuja declaration, Maputo Declaration and African Union Agenda 2063 among others. Kenya launched Universal Health Coverage in December 2018 as one of the Big four Agenda with an objective of ensuring that all people access needed health services without the risk of financial ruin.

Universal Health Coverage is implemented in Kenya in phases with four pilot Counties being Nairobi, Nyeri, Isiolo and Machakos with a focus in strengthening primary healthcare. The UHC framework of eight principles and three dimensions of service coverage, financial coverage and population coverage are geared towards affordable healthcare for all including vulnerable populations like persons with disabilities.

While the UHC platform promises a bright future in promotion of healthcare and advancing health equity among the key vulnerable populations, the implementation framework must be alive to the lived realities of the said “vulnerable populations” . Existing health disparities play out in various key populations denying them health equity from various dimensions such as equity in health coverage, health financing, health outcomes and access to basic and specialized services.

While the Universal Health Coverage framework provides a comprehensive approach to affordable healthcare for all, girls and women with disabilities are still disadvantaged from enjoying the benefits of UHC especially in the facets of reproductive health rights and Maternal Health. For these young girls and women with disabilities there is poor health seeking behavior owing to inaccessible health facilities, lack of reproductive health information in accessible formats, lack of sexuality education, low self-esteem owing to historical discrimination, exclusive policies which lack disability specific indicators and most importantly misconceptions and myths around disability and sexuality which have led to attitudinal barriers from the community and even health workers hence reproductive health inequity.

More often, vulnerable populations are viewed from the perspective of income levels, thereby ignoring the vulnerabilities that come with disability which is indeed compounded since majority of persons with disabilities are among the poorest.

Universal Health Coverage is a significant roadmap to sustainable development with a global commitment of leaving no one behind. As we inch closer to 2030 ,we must breath life to the clarion call of leaving no one behind by ensuring that the strategies for implementation of UHC within the facets of Maternal Health and Sexual Reproductive Health speak to the needs of Women with Disabilities.

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