The UN estimates that the pandemic could cause 7 million unwanted pregnancies over the next six months as women lose access to contraception and reproductive health.
According to data from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released in late April, isolation measures and serious disruptions to health services during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to the fact that the number of women who are unable to engage in family planning or are faced with unwanted pregnancy, sexual abuse and other harmful manifestations can “skyrocket” to millions
“These new data show the catastrophic impact that COVID-19 could soon have on women and girls around the world,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “The pandemic is exacerbating inequality and millions of women and girls are now at risk of losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health.”
Globally, around 450 million women in 114 low- and middle-income countries use contraception, according to UNFPA and partner organizations. Experts predict that if normal health services are interrupted and isolation regimes continue for six months, about 47 million people in these countries may not be able to access modern contraception, resulting in an estimated seven million unwanted pregnancies.
In addition, during the same period, there will be 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence, and another 15 million cases are expected within every three months the lockdown continues.
Child mortality is expected to rise to 6,000 per day due to cuts in regular services such as postpartum checks and vaccines. This could mean an increase in under-5 mortality for the first time in decades, according to UNICEF.
According to the President of Estonia and the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, who held a virtual summit with leaders from Canada, Costa Rica, Senegal and UN officials, the alarm must be sounded to protect the rights of women and children in the face of the pandemic.
“This pandemic is undermining the significant progress made on the health and rights of women, children and adolescents,” said former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.
“We hear stories that immunizations have not been achieved, that there are no pregnancy services, that there are no sexual and reproductive health services at all,” she said in a comment.
Thomson Reuters Foundation.
As vulnerable members of society, especially in poor countries, women are likely to be hit hard by the economic crisis and will have a hard time recovering, Helen Clark said.
Several leaders said community-based interventions might be the best solution. Such as the campaign in Senegal to disseminate food and health resources for women workers in the markets.
“If it’s small, it’s still important,” said Awa Marie Koll-Seck, Minister of State for the President of Senegal.
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid urged countries to seek innovative solutions: “Traditional tools are not enough. So let’s try to do something differently, to achieve more at the grassroots level. If anything positive can happen at all because of this pandemic, then it is broader recognition of the importance of global public goods … and support for the weakest in society, children, adolescents and women. “