The sexual and reproductive health of people with disabilities are generally overlooked in Bangladesh though they need the healthcare just like anyone else, experts said on Monday.
The people with disabilities are generally denied healthcare and treated badly by the healthcare providers, they said.
Bangladesh, they said, lacks specialized health care facilities and skilled service providers for the disabled.
Speaking at a discussion, they said that the people with disabilities even don’t get the opportunities to express their emotions and sexual desires and they become the victims of sexual and physical violence.
The discussion on sexual and reproductive health of people with disabilities was hosted by the Brac James P Grant School of Public Health at icddr,b in the capital.
According to the government data, about seven per cent people in Bangladesh have various disabilities, but the World Health Organisation statistics show that 15 per cent of the population have disabilities.
Citing different studies, JPG School of Public Health researcher Fatema Akter Bonny said that the people with disabilities were treated badly four times more compared to the others by the healthcare providers and they were likely to be denied healthcare three times more.
Fatema said that the specialised facilities and skilled healthcare providers needed by the disabled were totally inadequate.
The disable girls and boys are three times more likely to be victims of sexual violence, and the girls face the greater risks, Fatema said.
And children with disabilities are four times more likely to be victims of physical violence, said Fatema.
JPG School of Public Health assistant director of Centre of Excelence for Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Farhana Alam said that the disabled men suffer psychological trauma failing to fulfil their masculine expectations while women with disabilities cannot fulfil their sexual desires.
Even if women with disabilities get married a significant number of them get divorced or separated, she said.
She said that the disabled cannot access the government run family planning services.
JPG School of Public Health assistant professor Tanvir Hasan said the sexual and reproductive health and needs of people with disabilities were largely ignored in Bangladesh.
By excluding them, it would be impossible for Bangladesh to achieve sustainable universal health coverage, he said.
The school’s adjunct professor AKM Mazharul Islam said that data and research about the people with disabilities were scanty in Bangladesh.
He said the Brac JPG School of Public Health started a research on ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh.’
The research would be completed by mid-2020, he said.
JPG School of Public Health research fellow Raia Azmi and deputy project coordinator Irin Akhter spoke, among others.
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