Skip to main content

This past week (Jun 21), I have been working on accumulating resources for the launch of a new sexual and reproductive health (SRH) program under the Fugee Assist mobile application. As I was browsing the web for more information about SRH services in South Africa, I ended up learning a lot about how the country has dealt with improving SRH among its population. In 1996, the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed, decreasing death from unsafe abortions by about 90%. Despite the passage of this act, maternal mortality rates, HIV, unintended pregnancy and other related issues still remain exceptionally high. However, my search has led me to many local South-Africa based initiatives geared towards SRH. It is undeniable that SRH problems continue to burden sub-saharan Africa, but South Africa has taken many strides to address these health issues.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was founded in 1998 which was aimed at making antiretroviral drugs available to South Africans and destigmatizing HIV. The organization’s consistent efforts proved to be successful and reduced the cost of HIV medicine, prevented hundreds of thousands of HIV deaths, and increased accessibility to other health resources for those who couldn’t afford them. Soul City Institute (SCI), an NGO established in 1992, is an intersectional feminist organization that focuses on equality and accessibility to resources for womxn and girls. The goals of SCI are aligned with the 2030 sustainable development goals, and the organization hosts many programs to empower womxn. Throughout my research, I found a number of other organizations aimed at improving SRH in South Africa. I have only mentioned two initiatives here, but I am quite impressed at South Africa’s commitment to provide more equitable SRH services. While the work is far from over, my search allowed me to be more hopeful for the future of SRH in the country.

In three days, it will mark one month since the start of our Duke Engage program. It is crazy to think about how a month ago, I did not have much noteworthy knowledge about South Africa. The books and guest speakers have allowed me to contextualize the country in an engaging way, but having my own opportunity to delve into South Africa’s complex history has been instrumental. While I often think about how different my experience would be if I was actually in Cape Town, I am thankful to be able to learn about a whole new culture from the comfort of my bedroom.