SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEATH WORKSHOP
On 9 April 2015 the University of Cape Town (UCT) chapter of the South African Medical Students Association (SAMSA) hosted a Sexual and Reproductive Health Workshop in celebration of the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights, observed annually on April 11. The workshop also served as the launch of the Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health including HIV/AIDS (SCORA) of the local chapter headed by Ms. Zahraa Mohamed.
The event was attended by over 50 students, researchers, academics and numerous organisations including the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition (SRJC), End Abortion Stigma Initiative (EASI), Marie Stopes, Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT).
The event gave medical students a platform to discuss major gaps they felt were evident in their medical school curricula especially lack of abortion training, amongst other stigmatised topics.
Zahraa Mohamed reported that the feedback from the workshop has been overwhelmingly positive. All of the speakers were engaging and provided important insight into reproductive health, specifically termination of pregnancy.
The event saw an array of presenters which included:
- Professor Roland E. Mhlanga, Global Doctors for Choice (GDC)
- Dr. Chiv Gordon, UCT
- Dr. Marjike Alblas, Independent Abortion provider
- Ms. Deborah Constant, UCT
- Ms. Jody Lee Fredericks, Women’s Legal Centre (WLC)
National Officer of Sexual and Reproductive Health including HIV/AIDS (NORA), Vikar Singh, was delighted to see medical students take a keen interest in safe abortion provision as unsafe abortion still carries major burden of maternal mortality and morbidity in many countries around the world.
Its saddening in a country like South Africa, which has some of the most progressive abortion laws in the world, that women are still being admitted into hospitals with complications from unsafe abortions, with the exterior of the same hospitals being pasted with illegal abortion provider fliers. This clearly illustrates that there are still many disparities that exist in provision, education and access to sexual and reproductive health services. However, workshops such as these are the stepping stones to breaking down stigma about topics such as abortion within the medical fraternity, ensuring service provision in public and private healthcare facilities in the future.
The organisers would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the event sponsors- African Gender Institute, Global Doctors for Choice and DISA Clinic, as well as to all participants for giving their time in making the event a success.