Rostina Pedro Cumbane is a 35 year-old person living with disability (PLWD) and single mother of three children aged 8, 10 and 13 years. She lives in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city, and plaits women’s hair in a room in her house - her family’s sole income.
Widowed five years ago, Rostina says that while she has been dating, she is yet to find someone she wants to settle down with. Since she doesn't want to have an unplanned pregnancy, she has been going to Associação Moçambicana para Desenvolvimento da Família (AMODEFA), the local IPPF Member Association health center for family planning services, run as part of the Women's Integrated Sexual Health (WISH2ACTION) program, which is funded by the UK Government under the ethos of ‘Leaving No One Behind’.
The WISH2ACTION programme offers integrated and inclusive family planning and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to marginalised and hard to reach populations: the poor, youth under 20, and persons living with disability.
Hearing impaired since birth, Rostina accesses a wide range of services at the AMODEFA clinic in Maputo. Recently, she undertook a HIV test and received a top-up of family planning pills during her regular scheduled appointment.
"I’m leaving here happy because the result (from the HIV test) is negative. This means that the protective measures I have been taking are working," said Rostina, through nurse Rufina Joaquim who interpreted her sign language.
Rostina additionally requested for male condoms to give her partner should he forget to bring some at their next encounter.
"I am very strict about this because I don’t want to have any more children unless it's with a person I trust entirely and with whom I and can make future plans with," said Rostina. "For now, my priority is to educate my children.”
Rostina expresses gratitude towards AMODEFA and recommends that the organization’s services be expanded to other parts of the country where they can reach more women with disabilities, who oftentimes are victims of violence but are not always able to express themselves.
SRH Challenges for Persons Living with Disability
Some of the SRH challenges that AMODEFA has observed regarding PLWDs’ access to services include: the lack of public health policies that support their access to SRH services, stigma and discrimination (including at facility level) of those who seek services, as well as poor infrastructure at service delivery points, which makes it especially difficult for PLWDs to access these services.
From AMODEFA’s experience and subsequent recommendations, it is important to involve Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) in inclusive sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) capacity building initiatives. This would increase healthcare workers’ outreach to PLWDs and would also help PLWDs learn more about SRH services and their availability.
AMODEFA continues to scale up SRH services by facilitating awareness-raising sessions and dialogues on family planning myths and misconceptions, more so among persons living with physical disability and those who are hearing-impaired.