By DAISY TANIOVA PAWA
PAPUA New Guinea will achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) if it invests in sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR).
Participants at the sexual and reproductive health rights advocacy workshop were told in Lae yesterday.
Diane Ryan, programme coordinator for the man and boys programme, COMPASS in New Zealand, said sexual and reproductive health relates to all of the millennium development goals.
“Addressing the reproductive health rights would change the attitude of individuals.”
Mrs Ryan said investing in it reduces poverty and improves access to education for women and girls for greater empowerment.
“If men and women choose to have smaller families they can give more of their spare attention to activities such as earning an income.
“This can lead to an increased investment in nutrition, shelter health and education that would eventually lead to national economic growth,” she said.
Mrs Ryan said when a woman had been educated, her understanding of child bearing and navigating the health system would improve, increasing her chances of receiving appropriate care for her and her child.
“If a sexually active adolescent female has access to contraception, she can prevent unwanted pregnancies and continue her education to help improve the well-being of her family.”
Mrs Ryan said investing in SRHR would decrease child mortality, improve maternal health and help prevent diseases.
In the Pacific, 98.9% of HIV infections are associated with sexual connections, pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding and if SRHR is addressed properly, then it will have a major impact in reducing the HIV infection rate in the country.
Mrs Ryan said addressing the SRHR would also contribute to environmental sustainability.
She said the world’s population was forecasted to reach nine billion by 2050, with the current rate of reproduction, and if this happened, it would increase the burden on the earth’s resources.
Mrs Ryan said advocacy would enable couples to make realistic choices on the number of children they want so they could help balance the natural resources to help sustain the human race.