Self-testing tools to boost women reproductive health

A medical doctor carries testing swabs for cervical cancer. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Self-care as a concept was recognised in the 1980s to bridge the gap in gender inequalities in health and in providing women-centred solutions.

Women are able to use self-care tools such as self-injections among other tools and services to control unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections and get control of their lives in general.

The tools, which include phone-based applications for predicting menstrual cycles, home pregnancy tests, contraception, contraceptive vaginal rings, contraceptive self-injection, medical abortion, HIV self-testing, and human papillomavirus DNA self-sampling, are pioneered to create good adherence to medication and treatment among females.

According to WHO, self-care as a concept was recognised in the 1980s to bridge the gap in gender inequalities in health and in providing women-centred solutions.

“Access to self-injectable contraception can reduce unintended pregnancy annually among the 74 million women and girls living in low and middle-income countries,” the study reveals.

Experts say the concept encourages and supports women to have greater control and decision-making in their sexual and reproductive health care and task shifting among health workers.

Dr Charles Olaro, the Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health told the Monitor that this practice is still done in the confines of the health system.

"In sexual reproductive health, women can be taught to use self-injections in the comfort of their homes at any level and this is power," he said, adding that this means individuals are empowered to take good care of themselves.

Dr Olaro also said that the government has developed guidelines to self-care, pre-tested it in Mukono and saw areas for improvement.

Dr Moses Muwonge, the Executive Director at SAMASHA Medical Foundation, said these user-centred sexual and reproductive health products and practices enhance better health outcomes.

“The National Guideline for Self-Care Interventions for SRHR [in Uganda] highlights that the practices mentioned above can intervene in Antenatal Care, Family Planning, Post-Abortion Care, and STIs,” he said.

Ms Fatia Kiyange, deputy executive director at the Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) recommended self-care as a tool for facilitating advancing gender equality and promoting women’s health rights.

“Self-care interventions for SRHR unleash power into the hands of women and girls. This allows them to take care of their own health, giving them choice and autonomy,” she said.

Ms Fiona Walugembe, the project director at PATH Uganda said there is a need for health interventions in observing best practices for self-care.