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Story and Perspective

Universal Health Coverage and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights—A Perfect Match

Lois Quam

Pathfinder International’s commitment to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is instilled in our vision—a world where everyone has access to contraception, where there are zero new HIV infections, where no woman dies from preventable pregnancy-related complications, and where everyone leads a healthy sexual and reproductive life.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are a crucial part of achieving UHC—allowing people to attain good health through ready access to needed health services without financial impediment. After all, so many aspects of a person’s health are tied to their sexual and reproductive health, including their ability to delay and prevent pregnancies, prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections, have healthy pregnancies and births, and support and raise healthy children.

Every country developing a UHC plan must respond to the SRHR needs within their borders—much like Burkina Faso has started to do. In Burkina Faso, Pathfinder has worked closely with the government’s UHC Secretariat to support the inclusion of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including family planning services, in UHC policies. Now, the government of Burkina Faso is offering free family planning services in all public health clinics, through community-based health workers, and in private health clinics.

Burkina Faso’s inclusion of free family planning in its UHC plan is a strong example of how countries can build pathways in their UHC policies that achieve equity in access, quality of care without discrimination, and accountability—and other countries must follow suit.

At Pathfinder, we are proud to assist country governments in advancing UHC through plans that integrate SRHR in community and health systems strengthening, mobilize stakeholders within and beyond the health sector, and advocate for resource allocations to health systems.

On this UHC Day, we call on governments around the world to develop UHC plans that account for the SRHR needs of women and their families.  Join us.

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