The Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS) will hold, on 13 December, an international conference entitled “Promoting Access to Health for Marginalized Populations and the LGBTQI+ Community.”

The event, which is part of the “Empowering the LGBTQ+ Community in Mozambique” project, has the main objective of advocating inclusion in access to health for marginalized groups, by mapping the challenges and opportunities for networking.

The event also aims to keep the public informed about the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ population in accessing healthcare in Mozambique; to present and discuss research findings on the lack of inclusion in healthcare services, as a way of sparking an open and informative debate on discrimination against vulnerable groups in accessing healthcare services.

It also aims to mobilize state and civil society actors for an informative debate on formulating more comprehensive and effective health policies; to discuss new advocacy approaches in defense of the right to health, taking into account experiences from other African countries on access to health services for the LGBTQI+ community and drug users. Finally, the conference aims to identify joint action priorities for a more structured advocacy position with the Ministry of Health (MISAU) and other entities in defense of the right to health.

The event will be attended by the LGBTQI+ community, organizations working with the LGBTQI+ community, members of civil society, representatives of the Ministry of Health (MISAU), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), members of Parliament, health professionals, as well as representatives of embassies accredited in Mozambique.

The event is expected to produce a collection of evidence on good practice in the inclusion of LGBTQ communities in health services and to publicize the main findings of the research carried out by the OCS, as part of the project.

It is also hoped to gather participants’ perceptions of the importance of humanized care for the LGBTQI+ community, as well as to design action strategies to work on in coordination with the Ministry of Health.

Researches show that professionals are unprepared to deal with sexual minorities, depriving them of access to decent medical care. These factors lead to a false lack of gays and lesbians in the National Health System. In other words, because they are part of a minority group, these individuals exclude themselves and fail to attend health appointments to be screened, for example, for cervical cancer in lesbian women, or for HIV and AIDS.

The barriers that prevent these groups from accessing health services violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate to ensure for himself and his family adequate health and well-being, especially as regards food, clothing, medical care and necessary social services”.

It is therefore indisputable that health is a right that must be enjoyed by everyone, and access to basic health services and essential medicines is mandatory, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the WHO, universal healthcare is one of the main factors contributing to a country’s well-being, as it improves health equity by covering the needs of the entire population. In turn, the health system is a social determinant of health, influenced by other social determinants. In health services that consider heterosexuality to be an exclusive, normal or natural sexual orientation, other sexual diversities are called into question.

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