Source: Tanzania Daily News
SOUTHERN African Development Community (SADC) member states have been urged to join hands to ensure accessing to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services a human right not a privilege bestowed on a few.

The SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) Programme Manager responsible for Democracy and Governance, Mr Sheuneni Kuwasha, made the plea in Dar es Salaam yesterday, saying the health systems in the region were falling to cope with demand for SRHR services.

"In many of our member states, culture and harmful practices continue to thwart women's access to SRHR services," said Mr Kuwasha during the orientation workshop for parliamentarians of the parliament of Tanzania on SRHR and HIV as well as governance.

The two-day workshop, organised by SADC-PF, is part of preparations for implementing a project to strengthen the capacity of national parliaments to respond to SRHR, HIV and AIDS and Governance issues.

Mr Kuwasha urged the participants to make optimum utilisation of time during the Orientation Session to learn as much as possible about the project and their role in supporting its effective implementation.

According to Mr Kuwasha, the project was the outcome of baseline studies conducted in SADC member states.

"The purpose of these baseline studies was to establish prevailing levels of knowledge, attitudes, practices and other variables related to SRHR, HIV and AIDS and governance issues," he said.

On his part, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Dr Thomas Kashililah, said parliamentarians have duty to work with other stakeholders to help bring about universal access to SRHR.

"Many of our citizens largely women and girls lack comprehensive SRHR thus exposing them to HIV and AIDS," said the National Assembly Clerk in a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Chairperson for Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS, Mr Constantine Kanyasu.

Dr Kashililah, who was the guest of honour at the workshop, said despite the remarkable progress recorded in the fight against HIV and AIDS, there were still gaps in critical areas, including SRHR, new infections and deaths of children due to AIDS-related causes.

"We are aware that although many African countries, including our own have done well in initiating adults on life-saving treatment, so many of children are still falling through the cracks (AIDS related deaths)," he observed.

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