Public health is a concept which seeks to protect the health of populations and communities on a large scale. It deals with a wide variety of issues and challenges that may impact population health, ensuring the conditions and environment exist for competent disease prevention and delivery of care (American Public Health Association, n.d.). Public health is commonly dependent on policy and government programs that identify, monitor, fund, and regulate population-based healthcare projects and activities. This report will discuss the topic of sexual health, with a focus on issues such as lack of access to services and attempts to limit reproductive rights.
Sexual and reproductive health affects all human populations, promoting a safe sex life, informed consent, and the ability to use birth control and reproductive medicine. There are various subcategories in this dimension of public health, including maternal health, adolescent health, contraception, sexually transmitted disease prevention, sexual violence, and abortions (Beek, Dawson, & Whelan, 2017). The topic of health affects every human being that has undergone development and is biologically able to engage in sexual behaviors. However, socially the topic of sexual and reproductive health is most often discussed in reference to women.
Reproductive and sexual health is both a national and local issue. At the federal level, it becomes a broad concept and discussion of laws and basic human rights, identifying which sexual and reproductive behaviors are allowed and prohibited for the society in the United States. Federal laws guarantee certain decision-making and rights, such as abortion. The national approach also seeks to research, promote, and disseminate appropriate health practices and access to services.
Meanwhile, state and local policies control more minute details regarding access, funding, and regulation, as long as it does not violate the national law (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). For example, states may decide whether to conduct sexual education for adolescents, and the topics included in such classes.
Good sexual and reproductive health consists of a combination of physical, mental, and social factors aligning. However, there are a number of issues regarding the topic. Major sexual health concern in the United States is sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), with more than 2 million newly diagnosed cases annually, resulting in $16 billion in healthcare costs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).
Another reproductive health concern is safe to access to contraception and abortion clinics. Despite being legal, these methods of control for reproduction have various barriers, particularly for women. These barriers range from lack of funding and no insurance coverage to public and legislative pressure, forcing women to seek alternatives to family planning (Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women, 2015).
Problem and Solutions
The primary problem for reproductive and sexual health is a decreased access to proper health care services and attempts by social groups and the government to potentially limit reproductive rights. The stakeholders include the general population affected by the issue, especially women who more commonly experience barriers in regard to sexual health. Furthermore, the government is involved, creating legislation and regulating the provision of healthcare services. Public organizations and lobbying groups are included, seeking to either promote or shut down certain reproductive health services.
An optimal solution would be to develop and implement comprehensive public family planning programs. Family planning has been noted to aid in economic development, improvement of maternal and female health, the betterment of sexual education, and empowerment of women. The United Nations estimates that per $1 spent on family planning, $2-$6 can be saved on other public services, making it significantly cost-effective (Stover, Hardee, Ganatra, Moreno, & Horton, 2016).
Furthermore, family planning promotes human rights and equity while considering sustainable development due to the control of demographic growth. Family planning programs and clinics have been identified as a point of access to sexual health for women, including receiving education and STD prevention tools (Seidman, Carlson, Weber, Witt, & Kelly, 2016).
Impact on Health Care Delivery System
Nationally supported policies such as Title X significantly contribute to overcoming socioeconomic barriers to access, particularly in conservative areas where family planning may be socially discouraged. With Medicaid expansions, 35.5%, young women of reproductive age experienced increased access to birth control and family planning services (Moniz et al., 2018). Women from low-income areas and at-risk populations will gain access to the fundamentals of sexual and reproductive health. This will lead to better-informed individuals, thus, fewer unintended pregnancies or infection rates amongst at-risk populations (Dworsky, Ahrens, & Courtney, 2013).
Family planning is a critical aspect of preventive health care, as it allows women to control and foster personal reproductive processes, resulting in less burden on the health care delivery system. At the same time, family planning requires financing due to the complex nature of the program. Various methods of contraception, specific medical requirements, and comprehensive service provider that includes outreach and education, all require extensive coverage. With proper regulation, funding, and policy guidance, family planning is a comprehensive approach to ensuring high-quality service delivery for sexual and reproductive health.
American Public Health Association. (n.d.). What is public health? Web.
Beek, K., Dawson, A., & Whelan, A. (2017). A review of factors affecting the transfer of sexual and reproductive health training into practice in low and lower-middle-income country humanitarian settings. Conflict and Health, 11, 16. Web.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Reported STDs in the United States, 2016. Web.
Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women. (2015). Access to contraception. Web.
Dworsky, A., Ahrens, K., & Courtney, M. (2013). Health insurance coverage and use of family planning services among current and former foster youth: Implications of the health care reform law. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 38(2), 10.1215/03616878–1966360. Web.
Moniz, M. H., Kirch, M. A., Solway, E., Goold, S. D., Ayanian, J. Z., Kieffer, E. C.,… Chang, T. (2018). Association of access to family planning services with medicaid expansion among female enrollees in Michigan. JAMA Network Open, 1(4). Web.
Seidman, D., Carlson, K., Weber, S., Witt, J., & Kelly, P. J. (2016). United States family planning providers knowledge of and attitudes towards preexposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention: A national survey. Contraception, 93(5), 463-469. Web.
Stover, J., Hardee, K., Ganatra, B., Moreno, C. G., & Horton, S. (2016). Chapter 6: Interventions to improve reproductive health. In R.E. Black, R. Laxminarayan, M. Temmerman, & Walker, N. (Eds.), Reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health: Disease control priorities, (3rd ed.) (Volume 2). (pp. 95-114). Washington, DC: World Bank Group.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). Reproductive and sexual health. Web.