Lived experiences of women with disabilities in accessing sexual and reproductive health services in Lira District, Northern Uganda
Masereka, Enos Mirembe
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The study aimed at exploring the lived experiences of women with disabilities in accessing sexual and reproductive health services in Lira district, Northern Uganda. This study utilised a phenomenological study design. Ten women, aged 15 - 49 years, were purposively selected from Lira District Union of Persons with Disabilities. They were accessing sexual and reproductive health services across the district. Data was collected using an in-depth interview guide, and thereafter thematic analysis was done. More than half (60%) of the participants were 40-50 years old and had more than 2 children. Half of them (50%) were married; the majority (70%) resided in the rural area and had a physical disability. They related their positive and negative experiences. On the positive side, they indicated the existence of supportive stakeholders, availability of services, and being served with no discrimination in some health facilities. Negatively, they experienced difficulty in navigating the physical environment in health facilities, lack of transport, negative healthcare provider attitudes, long waiting time, side effects of family planning methods, lack of privacy and unhygienic sanitary environments in health facilities. Women with disabilities in Lira district had both positive and negative experiences in accessing sexual and reproductive health services. Recommendations of this study include counselling women with disabilities about side effects of hormonal family planning methods, incorporating disability studies in curricula for health workers, on-the-job training for health workers on care for persons with disabilities, and enforcing policies that favour access to sexual and reproductive health services for women with disabilities. The government should empower the local leadership to supervise every new health facility that is being constructed, and ensure that accessibility standards for women with disabilities are met.