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The Ombudsperson Institution presented the Report on National Assessment of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Kosovo

With the aim of reinstatement violated rights of individuals as well as with the intention of setting guaranteed standards and promotion of good practices, the Ombudsperson has presented today the Report SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS IN KOSOVO: A REALITY BEYOND THE LAW?

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) has a protective framework with the Constitution of Republic of Kosovo, which includes not only rights envisaged in the Constitutional Chapter on human rights, but also rights known from international traits on human rights which the Constitution recognizes as directly applicable and prevail over local legislation in case of conflict.

This Report, the first of this kind in Kosovo aims the assessment of progress as well as political, economic, social and cultural barriers on sexual and reproductive health in Kosovo, through the lens of human rights, guaranteed by the State’s Constitution, keeping accountable all respective and responsible authorities towards their legal liabilities versus SRHR, provision of recommendations for actions which ensure potential for progress and Support for accomplishment of SRHR for the Kosovo population.

This Assessment was carried out by the Ombudsperson Institution (OI), with technical guidance and financial support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) national office in Kosovo and was based on review of documents and relevant publications as well as on consultations with public authorities, civil society, international organisations and field professionals.

The Assessment is focused within the framework of seven key issues: contraceptive information and services; safe abortion, maternal health; HIV/AIDS; comprehensive sexuality education; violence against women;
cancer and reproductive health, having in mind vulnerable groups within the focus of assessment, reliability and availability of data, non-discrimination, privacy including confidentiality, participation etc.

By all means, broader health system and socio-economic context, as two highly relevant issues to understand SRHR, have been taken in consideration during Report drafting, which has identified progress and obstacles areas.

Data was analysed with three overarching questions in mind: what is the status of SRHR of the population of Kosovo, including marginalized groups? Which key laws, policies and initiatives have been adopted by the Government, and what is their implementation status? What are the main consistencies and discrepancies between the constitutional protections of SRHR and the reality?

The Report ascertains that Kosovo has tangible progress with regard to a strong constitutional framework for the protection of SRHR; an extensive number of relevant laws and policies; progress/achievements in developing a new health system with an appropriate referral system and in particular with SRHR issues: low rate of maternal mortality and low prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

While identified challenges and obstructions have to do with: low levels of budgetary contributions to health; limited implementation of laws and policies; poor coordination between sectors as well as between central and municipal authorities; significant limitations in data collection including in the health information system which is hampered by limited reporting of, and inaccurate data; more limited access to healthcare for persons living in rural areas; and the tendency of the population to bypass family medicine centres and directly seek out specialist sexual and reproductive healthcare; weak monitoring and accountability, including in respect of illegal practices such as clandestine abortion, and implementation of policies, limited participation of the population including marginalized groups in the development of SRHR-related policies, poor respect of the privacy and confidentiality by health professionals, expiring of majority of policies on sexual and reproductive health, etc.

The Report points out that Kosovo amongst others needs to: update, implement and monitor the implementation of policies, develop the HIS so that appropriate and disaggregated data is routinely collected; extend the provision of age-appropriate compulsory comprehensive sexuality education across all schools; improve privacy and confidentiality in healthcare settings; enhance knowledge of and access to modern methods of contraception; support implementation of the legislative and policy framework on violence against women through raising awareness of SRHR in this context amongst the population, judiciary and other key institutions; address illegal abortion services as well as to address the SRHR of at-risk groups.

The Report “SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS IN KOSOVO: A REALITY BEYOND THE LAW” unveils 62 recommendations to the responsible authorities, disseminated according to core issues handled and taking in consideration intertwined problems as well as at risk and marginalized groups.

The Report has been published in a hard copy but its electronic copy is available on OI web page as well.
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