Sexual and Reproductive Health in a Rural Community: Understanding Costa Rica's health care system and its influences

10 October, 2017

Seminar by: Carolina Maria Quesada Cordero (University of Sydney)

This paper seeks to explain some of the influences that impact the delivery of sexual and reproductive health in a rural Health Care Facility in Costa Rica. Throughout the paper I will identify the processes that have contributed to the medicalisation of sexuality in Costa Rica. The paper will highlight global and local discourses related to sexual and reproductive health, vis-à-vis the existing sexual and reproductive practices of the population of a mixed (indigenous and non-indigenous) community. Throughout the paper I will show that Costa Rica has been greatly influenced by international agencies, starting with the Rockefeller Foundation all through the past century, and in recent years with the implementation of programs developed by multilateral agencies like WHO and PAHO, and embedded in the Millennium Development Goals. Furthermore, these programs are supported by bilateral organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this paper, I will also point to the Catholic Church’s influence and stronghold on Costa Rica’s legislation (through the constitution) as an important agent in determining Costa Rica’s sexual and reproductive health policies. Overall, the interactions between these global influences, have resulted in the sexual and reproductive health initiatives in Costa Rica, which can be characterised as conservative and centred in medical interventions. These initiatives are further influenced by the health care professionals implementing them, and their concerns in relation to the targeted population. Of particular interest for this paper are the health care professionals’ concerns with teenage pregnancy, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

(For seminars jointly organised with the Department of Anthropology, click here for full session details.)


Location: SLC Common Room 536, Brennan M

Contact:Dr Fernanda Penaloza