In recent years, it has become very evident that noncommunicable diseases adversely affect large numbers of women. Gender differentials in access to healthcare, screening services and treatment make women particularly vulnerable to specific noncommunicable diseases. Women are said to account for half the people living with diabetes, and in some countries they have preponderance over men. With changes in lifestyle and the increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes is affecting younger women of reproductive age and increasing the risk of pregnancy complications. Diabetes has an impact on the sexual and reproductive health and lives of men and women, but these interlinks are very seldom explored and talked about. There is evidence that diabetes has its inception in the womb and yet this evidence has not caught the imagination and attention of SRHR practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and implementers.
ARROW has always been keen on identifying critical issues that intersect and impact women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Diabetes in pregnancy is a neglected issue that needs urgent global attention not only for its negative maternal and perinatal consequences, but for the potential life long disabilities it causes for the woman and child. Recognising both the challenges posed by diabetes and the opportunities for prevention offered with timely identification, treatment, and control during pregnancy, ARROW agreed to partner with the World Diabetes Foundation, based in Denmark, to raise awareness and understanding of the issues. At the 6th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR), satellite session that highlighted the “missing links” between diabetes and SRHR. The conference offered an ideal opportunity for introducing the issue of NCDs, diabetes and SRHR – a topic never discussed prior to this session – to a wide range of SRHR practitioners, researchers, advocates, and policy makers.