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(From New Straits Times (Malaysia))
WHEN we talk of reproductive health, family planning immediately comes to mind. But there is far more to it than that.
Reproductive health covers mother-child health, safe motherhood, prevention and control of reproductive tract infections including STDs and HIV, and gynaecological and sexual problems. It also encompasses reproductive health education and counselling as well as responsible parenthood and discouragement of harmful practices against women and children.
Equally important is that through reproductive health comes the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights. Reproductive rights is the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children. They must also have the information and the means to do so.
However, despite its obvious role in the formulation of population policies and strategies, reproductive health does not receive enough coverage in the mass media. This is a worldwide problem.
As Paul Van Look, the director of the World Health Organisation's Department of Reproductive Health and Research, pointed out: "In spite of the sound arguments - based on public health concerns, human rights, equity, and social justice - calling for a strong focus on sexual and reproductive health, in many …