HRC53: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Health

This statement by ARROW and the Safe Abortion Advocacy Initiative Global South Engagement (SAIGE) was delivered at the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Health. Watch the video statement here.

Distinguished members of the Human Rights Council,

We welcome the recommendations made by SR on health that rightly identifies the crucial role played by digital innovation and technologies in  promoting the right to sexual and reproductive health, as well as on the impact of digital technologies on privacy and the use of data. We urgently request to address the issue of limited access to telemedicine and medical abortion  in the Global South and emphasize on the pressing need for governments to prioritize equitable access to these vital healthcare services.

Telemedicine is a proven means of providing abortion with medications safely, as health care providers can use telemedicine to provide abortion counseling and assessment, access to abortion medication via pharmacies or mail, and clinical guidance throughout the abortion process. But steps to expand telemedicine generally do not necessarily affect the provision of abortion care. People who need abortion services and health workers who provide them are encumbered by a raft of legal and regulatory requirements that go well beyond the requirements of other health care services. The digital divide perpetuates inequalities, with a significant proportion lacking the financial means to afford necessary technology and reliable internet connectivity (UNESCO, 2022). This hinders their access to telemedicine services. 

Moreover, rural communities suffer from limited healthcare facilities and reduced access to specialized reproductive services due to geographical disadvantages (World Bank, 2021).

Governments play a pivotal role in addressing these inequalities and upholding human rights. It is imperative that governments prioritize policies and allocate resources to bridge the digital divide, ensuring affordable internet access and necessary technology for marginalized groups (International Telecommunication Union, 2021). Culturally sensitive healthcare services must be made accessible, tailored to the specific needs of ethnic and racial minorities (World Health Organization, 2020). Investments in healthcare infrastructure are vital to expanding access for remote communities (World Bank, 2021).

We urgently call upon the Human Rights Council to urge governments to fulfill their obligations in promoting access to telemedicine and medical abortion specially for the vulnerable and most marginalized. By taking decisive action and addressing these disparities, governments can uphold the fundamental human rights to healthcare and achieve equitable access for all.

Vietnam

  • Centre for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP)

Indonesia

  • Aliansi Satu Visi (ASV);
  • CEDAW Working Group;
  • Hollaback! Jakarta;
  • Institut Kapal Perempuan;
  • Kalyanamitra;
  • Komnas Perempuan;
  • Remaja Independen Papua/Independent Youth
    Forum Papua (FRIP/IYFP);
  • Perkumpulan Keluarga Berencana Indonesia (PKBI);
  • Perkumpulan Lintas Feminis Jakarta;
  • Perkumpulan Pamflet Generasi;
  • RUTGERS Indonesia;
  • Sanggar SWARA;
  • Women on Web;
  • Yayasan Kesehatan Perempuan (YKP); 
  • YIFOS Indonesia

Maldives

  • Hope for Women
  • Society for Health Education (SHE)
HRC53: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Health

This statement by ARROW and the Safe Abortion Advocacy Initiative Global South Engagement (SAIGE) was delivered at the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Health. Watch the video statement here.

Distinguished members of the Human Rights Council,

We welcome the recommendations made by SR on health that rightly identifies the crucial role played by digital innovation and technologies in  promoting the right to sexual and reproductive health, as well as on the impact of digital technologies on privacy and the use of data. We urgently request to address the issue of limited access to telemedicine and medical abortion  in the Global South and emphasize on the pressing need for governments to prioritize equitable access to these vital healthcare services.

Telemedicine is a proven means of providing abortion with medications safely, as health care providers can use telemedicine to provide abortion counseling and assessment, access to abortion medication via pharmacies or mail, and clinical guidance throughout the abortion process. But steps to expand telemedicine generally do not necessarily affect the provision of abortion care. People who need abortion services and health workers who provide them are encumbered by a raft of legal and regulatory requirements that go well beyond the requirements of other health care services. The digital divide perpetuates inequalities, with a significant proportion lacking the financial means to afford necessary technology and reliable internet connectivity (UNESCO, 2022). This hinders their access to telemedicine services. 

Moreover, rural communities suffer from limited healthcare facilities and reduced access to specialized reproductive services due to geographical disadvantages (World Bank, 2021).

Governments play a pivotal role in addressing these inequalities and upholding human rights. It is imperative that governments prioritize policies and allocate resources to bridge the digital divide, ensuring affordable internet access and necessary technology for marginalized groups (International Telecommunication Union, 2021). Culturally sensitive healthcare services must be made accessible, tailored to the specific needs of ethnic and racial minorities (World Health Organization, 2020). Investments in healthcare infrastructure are vital to expanding access for remote communities (World Bank, 2021).

We urgently call upon the Human Rights Council to urge governments to fulfill their obligations in promoting access to telemedicine and medical abortion specially for the vulnerable and most marginalized. By taking decisive action and addressing these disparities, governments can uphold the fundamental human rights to healthcare and achieve equitable access for all.

Morocco

  • Association Marocaine de Planification Familiale (AMPF),
  • Morocco Family Planning Association

India

  • CommonHealth;
  • Love Matters India;
  • Pravah;
  • Rural Women’s Social Education Centre (RUWSEC);
  • SAHAYOG;
  • Sahaj;
  • Sahiyo;
  • SAMA – Resource Group for Women and Health;
  • WeSpeakOut;
  • The YP Foundation (TYPF)

Lao PDR

  • Lao Women’s Union;
  • The Faculty of Postgraduate Studies at the University of Health
    Sciences (UHS)

Sri Lanka

  • Bakamoono;
  • Women and Media Collective (WMC),
  • Youth Advocacy Network – Sri Lanka (YANSL)

Malaysia

  • Federation of Reproductive Health Associations of Malaysia (FRHAM);
  • Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG);
  • Justice for Sisters (JFS);
  • Reproductive Health Association of
    Kelantan (ReHAK);
  • Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM);
  • Sisters in Islam (SIS)

Maldives

  • Hope for Women;
  • Society for Health Education (SHE)

Myanmar

  • Colourful Girls Organization;
  • Green Lotus Myanmar

Nepal

  • Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC);
  • Blind Youth Association of Nepal;
  • Blue Diamond Society (BDS);
  • Nepalese Youth for Climate Action (NYCA);
  • Visible Impact;
  • Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC);
  • YPEER Nepal;
  • YUWA

Pakistan

  • Aahung, Centre for Social Policy Development (CSPD);
  • Forum for Dignity Initiative (FDI);
  • Gravity Development Organization; Green Circle Organization;
  • Indus Resources Center (IRC);
  • Idara-e-Taleem-O-Aaghai (ITA);
  • Rehnuma – Family Planning Association Pakistan;
  • Shelter
    Participatory Organisation;
  • Shirkat Gah;
  • The Enlight Lab

Philippines

  • Democratic Socalist Women of the Philippines (DSWP);
  • Galang;
  • Healthcare Without Harm;
  • Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities;
  • Likhaan Centre for Women’s Health;
  • Nisa UI Haqq Fi Bangsamoro;
  • PATH Foundation Inc. (PFPI);
  • Women’s Global Network for
    Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)

Singapore

  • End Female Genital Cutting Singapore
  • Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)

Mongolia

  • MONFEMNET National Network