by Sandy Garcon, Senior Manager, Advocacy & Communications, PSI
On April 2nd, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and BMJ Global Health launched a series of articles focused on self care interventions for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The purpose of this series is to strengthen the evidence base and inform the World Health Organization (WHO)’s forthcoming guidance on self care.
Sexual and reproductive health is deeply personal, and can often be marred by social, cultural, and legal barriers to accessing support or services. This means that self-care can empower and enable people to manage their health in ways that are often beyond the reach of the health system.
When made accessible and affordable, self-care interventions have the potential to increase individuals’ autonomy and self-efficacy in making decisions about their own care.
In circumstances where self care may be the only option, such as amid humanitarian crises, there is a profound difference between empowering individuals to manage their own health, and simply passing on the healthcare burdens of cost and service delivery to individuals. As with all healthcare interventions, the way in which self care initiatives are financed and managed is key to their success.
It is also important to note that self care should not be seen as a replacement for sustainable and high-quality health services. Nor is it deemed a shortcut to universal health coverage, rather a complementary component of overall healthcare.
The WHO’s Consolidated Guidelines on Self Care Interventions for SRHR, which is expected to be published later this year, will cover people-centered, evidence-based recommendations for key self care interventions for SRHR—with a focus on vulnerable populations and settings where health systems have limited capacity and resources.
Where self care and healthcare intersect, there is potential for transformative beneficial impact on the health of individuals and populations. Once released, the WHO guidance is expected to be a watershed moment for the SRHR community.
In the meantime, explore this series of articles from BMJ and BMJ Global Health and spread the word across your social channels. The following articles in particular hone in on the ways self care aligns with and amplifies health care systems.
- Self care interventions to advance health and wellbeing: a conceptual framework to inform normative guidance – Manjulaa Narasimhan and colleagues make the case for the pressing need for a clearer conceptualization of self care to support health policy.
- Self care interventions for sexual and reproductive health and rights: costs, benefits, and financing – a look at how self care interventions for sexual and reproductive health can improve equity and efficiency when costs to users are considered and their financing is right.
- Self care interventions could advance sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian settings – analysis of the role that self care interventions can play in filling the gaps.
Banner image: © PSI/Benjamin Schilling