As Aotearoa New Zealand’s only national primary care provider of sexual and reproductive health services and health promotion, and an accredited clinical training provider, Family Planning welcomes the first ever Women’s Health Strategy.
It is a huge step that we now have a government policy statement that recognises many of the key challenges and barriers for achieving health equity for women, girls, trans and gender diverse people, including gender bias and other forms of discrimination, stigma, lack of health education and poor access to services.
While high-level, it is positive that the Strategy names specific issues that health entities need to address including:
Prioritising commissioning of accessible sexual and reproductive health care
Enabling the primary and community health care workforce to access evidence-based health education and training on women-specific issues including training on [long-acting reversible contraceptive] LARC insertion and removal and early medical abortion
Ensuring that women have accessible, culturally safe information and education on women-specific health issues to reduce stigma and enable more women to access health advice.
Family Planning raised these issues in our submission and in our vision for the Strategy. As leading experts in sexual and reproductive health, Family Planning is well-placed to support government to address these priorities.
Family Planning is concerned that the focus on contraception in the Strategy seems too narrowly focused on LARC when there are significant barriers to accessing many modern methods of contraceptives. Access to all types of contraceptives must be prioritised. Additionally, the health needs of trans and gender diverse people do not appear to be well-represented in the Strategy, which is a significant oversight for a population group that experiences some of the greatest disparity in health outcomes.
Overall, the Women’s Health Strategy is a fantastic step forward for Aotearoa. The next steps, including the development of concrete actions, are critical if the Strategy is going to have an impact.
Family Planning looks forward to contributing to this next stage and supporting the implementation of the Strategy.