Making a difference among women and girls
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Founder and Advocate of SRHR, Dr. Patrice Douglas.
Founder and Advocate of SRHR, Dr. Patrice Douglas.

– Advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights

THE Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Adventures (SRHR), is an initiative that seeks to raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health and rights with a special focus on family planning and contraception in Guyana.

This mon-governmental organisation (NGO) was founded by medical doctor and advocate for women’s health and rights, Dr. Patrice Douglas and was birthed from Dr. Douglas’ passion for the issue as well as her countless encounters with women and girls whom she said hadn’t a clue how to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

The doctor said that somewhere in her mind, based on the evidence presented on the streets of Guyana, she knew that many persons weren’t planning their pregnancies, resulting in a major adolescent pregnancy rate in the country.

Dr Douglas explained that she even memorised the statistics since it was while doing an online course for the Women-Deliver Young Leaders Programme that she was asked to discuss a social ill in her country and she chose adolescent pregnancy.

According to the World Population 2013 report: “Guyana has the second highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in both the Caribbean and South America, with 97 out of every 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 giving birth.” It was based on these statistics that Dr. Douglas said, she became real saddened and knew she had some serious work to do in on this subject.

Dr. Douglas told the Pepperpot Magazine that she has been doing SRHR promotion work for a while now, however she came to the realisation that if she really wants to create a meaningful and measurable impact, then she needs others on board who share her vision and passion. That led her to organise and establish the group with seven other young doctors; one medical student and one psychologist.

She informed that the SRHR Adventures holds sessions on family planning, adolescent pregnancy, abortion and other SRHR topics at local health centres, churches and youth groups. The sessions are facilitated with a mobile SRHR toolkit (inclusive of note books, posters and manuals).

Recently, the group launched a campaign to raise awareness of the HPV (Human PapillomaVirus) vaccine, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health at the Giftland Mall.

Dr. Douglas noted that it was recognised that far too many Guyanese are not aware that there is vaccine that can prevent HPV-related cancers.

The awareness campaign is being carried out by going to schools and other institutions to talk about HPV and the vaccine along with the use of the local media.

Bill and Melinda Gates Institute

A grant won in 2016 through the “Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health” project “120 Under 40”  was  the major driving force that made this group a reality, Dr. Douglas mentioned.

The Gates Institute conducts and facilitates cutting-edge research in family planning, reproductive health, and population dynamics and translates science into evidence-informed policies, programmes and practice. As part of its mission, the Institute works as an innovator, partner, advocate and convener to bridge the gap between knowledge and implementation and promote access to universal reproductive health and family planning for all.

Challenges of SRHR
Meanwhile, Dr. Douglas said, “The major challenge being faced at present with the SRHR group is the extremely busy schedule of the members and it’s difficult at times to get persons to attend activities and planned events. The future plan is to establish a low cost Sexual and Reproductive Health clinic, where women and girls can have access to services without stigmatisation and discrimination.”

Dr. Patrice Douglas affirms that she is determined to make a difference in the lives of women in Guyana.

She aspires to be a powerful women’s and girls’ health and rights activist, who will effect change in the lives of Guyanese females and to a larger extent the world. (mercilinburke2017@gmail.com)

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