International Women's Day 2021: What is self-care?

Self-care: Peer educator

© Carrie Hawks/MSF

The term "self-care" might conjure up images of yoga and bubble baths, but for women who face obstacles receiving the health care they need, self-care can be lifesaving.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is integrating self-care as part of a patient-centered approach to health care by providing people with the knowledge, skills, and tools to undertake self-care safely while still having access to formal health services when they need them.

Self-care can include self-management, like administering a long-acting injectable contraceptive or managing your safe medication abortion at home. It can include self-testing, like self-swabbing for human papillomavirus, or oral home-testing for HIV. And it can include self-awareness, like accessing health information from a trusted peer or an app.