Meet Tisungane Sitima, Malawi youth activist working to safeguard reproductive health services during COVID-19
Tisungane Sitima was one of the first students in the gender and development program at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi—an experience that set her on the path to becoming a champion of sexual and reproductive rights. In this Q & A, she talks about why she became an advocate and her work as chairperson of Ipas Malawi’s initiative to protect access to abortion and contraceptive services during—and beyond—the coronavirus pandemic.
If you haven’t heard of Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng—known popularly as Dr T—you have somehow missed her ubiquitous presence on radio, TV, social media and numerous other platforms. She’s a medical doctor, sex expert and health activist. She’s a member of the South Africa Commission on Gender Equality and was recently appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. Dr. Mofokeng is also the author of A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure. She took time from her busy schedule to field some questions from Ipas.
Humanitarian health workers see with their own eyes every day that people living in crisis settings have acute needs for sexual and reproductive health care—including safe abortion.
Comprehensive sexuality education—that includes information about abortion—is essential for young people to be able to make safe, fully informed decisions about their health.
With an eye on major shifts in the abortion landscape, Ipas senior legal advisor Patty Skuster is calling for a more rigorous look at how abortion laws around the world affect public health outcomes.
Ipas Mozambique has a multifaceted approach to ensuring women and girls can still access needed reproductive health care—with minimal risk of COVID-19 infection—during the pandemic.
The Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act, introduced in the U.S. Congress on July 29 by Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, would repeal the Helms Amendment—a racist policy that for nearly 50 years has denied access to abortion services to Black and brown women living in low- and middle-income countries.
Health workers across India whose pre-pandemic work revolved around providing reproductive health are still working to keep those services available whenever possible. Many are also stepping up to provide COVID-related services as well—even when it means putting their personal lives on hold.
Well before the coronavirus crisis hit Kenya, the Ipas Africa Alliance was using the online platform WhatsApp to stay in touch with health professionals who are trained to provide abortion care throughout the country. Now, that communication is more valuable than ever.
Along with other members of the Pakistan Alliance for Postabortion Care, a national alliance of more than 40 organizations, Ipas Pakistan has called for federal, provincial and private facilities providing sexual and reproductive health care to remain open and continue providing outpatient services and counseling during the pandemic.