July 13, 2020
With the theme: ‘Putting the brakes on COVID-19: safeguarding the health and rights of women and girls’, the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) has called attention to the needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls amid the global pandemic, and the efforts needed to secure their health and human rights.
A statement from UNFPA on the occasion of World Population Day-11th July,stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has sickened 1,613 people and left more than 62 dead, but that the full toll of the catastrophe has been incalculably greater.
It states that health systems have been overwhelmed, with economies shuttered, and that women and girls have been disproportionately affected, with sexual and reproductive health services being curtailed and gender-based violence on the rise.
“Today, 11 July, is World Population Day, a moment to raise awareness of the sexual and reproductive health needs of people around the world. This year, UNFPA is calling attention to the needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls amid the global pandemic, and the efforts needed to secure their health and human rights,” the statement reads.
“No organization or country can do this alone,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA’s Executive Director, in a statement.
The statement continues that around the world, women face a variety of heightened risks due to the pandemic and that front-line health workers – the majority of whom are women – face a direct risk of illness from COVID-19.
It states that women requiring sexual and reproductive health services can face anxiety about exposure to the virus while seeking care, or they might forgo care entirely.
“Other women are not able to receive care at all due to movement restrictions and curbed health services.Many hospitals and health centres have reported a decline in the number of women and girls receiving critical sexual and reproductive health services, including antenatal services, safe delivery services and family planning care.”
UNFPA and partners, according to the statement, estimate that six months of significant health service disruptions could result in 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries going without contraceptives, leading to an additional 7 million unintended pregnancies.
The statement further disclosed that UNFPA is working to sustain continued access to reproductive health services and supplies and that in Sierra Leone, UNFPA and partners are supporting the government to ensure continuity of essential reproductive health services.
“UNFPA supported the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to preposition reproductive health commodities and supplies to the last mile. UNFPA is also working to promote the utilisation of reproductive health services, through the provision of mama-baby packs to encourage institutional deliveries. Learning from the Ebola epidemic, which led to disruption of maternal health and family planning services, UNFPA is supporting targeted heath facilities, public and private, to maintain the provision of essential reproductive health services.”
“Amidst this on-going COVID-19 pandemic, women continue to get pregnant and to give birth. It is our moral duty to ensure that quality reproductive health services are strengthened and sustained to prevent maternal mortality” said Dr. Kim Eva Dickson, UNFPA Country Representative in Sierra Leone.