Contd from previous issue
The SRHR programmes in Cambodia, as well as in many other countries of Asia Pacific region, require increased and sustained funding in order that SRHR relevant SDGs be achieved by 2030.
Primary prevention of cervical cancer is vital
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cervical cancer is the biggest cause of cancer-related death among women in Cambodia. An estimated 1500 women develop cervical cancer annually and 800 die because of it every year.
Cervical screening programme introduced since 2013 uses the WHO recommended VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) method as a screening tool and cryotherapy for early treatment.
But due to shortage of funds it is yet to introduce the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine for all girls aged 9 to 14 years.
Dr Chivorn hoped that, in addition to the existing screening programme, the Cambodian government will also consider introducing HPV vaccine for primary prevention.
Another challenge for Cambodia, as well as for many other countries of the Asia Pacific region, is to address multiple levels of socio-economic and legal discrimination faced by marginalized groups, such as women, people with disabilities, LGBTQI communities, among others. Cambodian society is tolerant towards the LGBTQI people, however, there are no specific laws protecting their rights.
There is a general law protecting the rights of the men and women but Cambodia needs to do more and needs to have a law that specifically protects their rights and helps in reducing discrimination and stigma faced by them, said Dr Chivorn.
The way forward...
Dr Chivorn called upon the governments in Asia Pacific region to be more accountable to deliver on SRHR.
"They must have laws that prohibit child marriage; support SRHR; introduce youth friendly SRHR services; advocate for introducing comprehensive sexuality education in the schools; and encourage meaningful participation from the disadvantaged population groups." In the words of Dr Chivorn: “The forthcoming 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR10) to be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia from 26-29 May 2020, will provide an opportunity to various governments, development partners, health professionals, civil societies, and representatives from diverse population groups to review the progress made, share the lessons learned and the challenges that still exist, and strategize on what needs to be done more to achieve the SRHR related SDGs in the Asia Pacific Region."
"They would also get to strengthen their collaborations and forge new partnerships as SRHR advocates, service providers, policy makers and development partners to create a conducive environment to strengthen SRHR. We need to keep the momentum high for sexual and reproductive health to achieve what all of us, including the government, have promised for the sustainable development goals." He further said that all countries, including Cambodia, must seriously work to achieve the SRHR related SDGs, where no one is left behind, and where all people have access to sexual and reproductive health and rights information, services and the freedom to decide their sexuality without coercion and judgment.
(Shobha Shukla is the Managing Editor of CNS (Citizen News Service) and coordinator of Asia Pacific Media Network to end TB & tobacco and prevent non-communicable diseases (APCAT Media). Follow her on Twitter @shobha1shukla or visit: www.citizen-news.org)