THE Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) says it is concerned about the country’s slow progress in realising the reproductive health rights of people living with disabilities.
LNFOD Executive Director Advocate Nkhasi Sefuthi said this to the Sunday Express on Friday on the side-lines of a one-day meeting about Sexual Reproductive Health Right (SRHR) for persons with disabilities at a Maseru hotel.
The meeting was held in partnership with the Disabled and HIV and AIDS Organisation of Lesotho (DHAOL) and the AIDS Foundation South Africa.
The meeting was aimed advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities, which also extends full access to sexual and reproductive health rights and freedoms from physical and sexual abuse.
The engagement was part of a broader regional initiative which seeks to promote the recognition of SRHR in the Eastern and Southern African regions in line with regional and international commitments.
Adv Sefuthi said there was a need to strategically engage stakeholders in government agencies and in civil society to realise the reproductive health rights of people with disabilities.
Adv Sefuthi said although Lesotho is party to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which seeks to protect and ensure equal enjoyment of human rights by people with disabilities including sexual and reproductive health services, they are concerned about the country’s slow progress.
“We are concerned about the slow progress made by Lesotho with regard to the realisation of the sexual and reproductive health rights of persons with disabilities by the service providers,” Adv Sefuthi said.
Adv Sefuthi said they are also concerned about the lack of communication and cooperation among the advocacy civil society organisations, UN agencies and government agencies working on SRHR. He said this lack of coherence negatively affects efforts towards the realisation of SRHR for people with disabilities.
He urged civil society organisations and organisations of people with disabilities to intensify advocacy on SRHR for persons with disabilities in order to realise their rights in Lesotho and in the region.
Adv Sefuthi also added that there was an urgent need to conduct a situational analysis to deepen understanding of the social, economic and political barriers facing people with disabilities hindering them from participating on an equal basis with others in society.