Sexual and reproductive health education for people with physical and mental disabilities
Since 2018 Prof. Gunta Lazdāne, the Director of the RSU Institute of Public Health (pictured: back row, first from the left), has been a member of an international group of experts at the Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung – BZgA) and an active participant in several projects implemented by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cooperation centre.
This group of experts consists of representatives from universities, non-governmental and international organisations (UNESCO, UNFPA and WHO). Various disciplines and skills as well as financial support provided by the German government has created an excellent breeding ground for projects and research in the field of sex education (like providing training, developing guidelines, etc.).
The BZgA expert group met in Cologne on 25 and 26 June. Photo: from Gunta Lazdāne’s private archive.
There are over 1 billion people with physical or mental disabilities worldwide. Often it reduces quality of life and limits their opportunities (UNFPA, 2018).
BZgA has been operating as a WHO cooperation centre in Cologne, Germany, since 1983. Since 2003 the centre has been devoting special attention to sexual and reproductive health. Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe (2010) is among the most popular editions published by BZgA and the WHO Regional Office for Europe. It has been translated into 13 languages and has had an impact on the development of new school programmes concerning relationship and sexual health, or the review of existing programmes, in 15 European countries.
On 25 and 26 June a group of experts met in Cologne to agree on what further steps need to be taken to draft the document Guidance on Sexuality Education for Young People with Disabilities. It is scheduled to be published at the end of 2019.
Social workers, non-governmental organisations, schools and parents stress the lack of training on topics addressing sexual and reproductive health and rights for people with physical or mental disorders in Latvia. The RSU Institute of Public Health is planning to raise this issue by popularising international experience and evaluating the opportunities for research. The results would help Latvian policy makers and those who implement the National Development Plan of Latvia for 2014–2020.