COVID-19 resulted in millions of people losing access to birth control, the United States estimate shows


Millions of women around the world lost access to family planning services such as birth control and contraception as a result of disorders caused by the Coronavirus pandemicAccording to estimates released Thursday by the United Nations Population Fund. The data also shows how the effects of the virus have disproportionately affected women, who also face increased responsibility for childcare and widespread job loss.

Researchers at the Population Fund (UNFPA), a UN agency focused on global reproductive health, estimated that 12 million women in 115 low- to middle-income countries “had no access to family planning services due to the COVID-19 pandemic”. “These disruptions lasted an average of 3.6 months and resulted in an estimated 1.4 million unplanned pregnancies in 2020.

The numbers are an improvement on what the U.N. agency originally projected. In April 2020, UNFPA speculated that 47 million women in 114 low-to-middle-income countries “might not be able to use modern contraception” if the coronavirus-related lockdown lasted six months and services were severely affected . At the time, UNFPA feared the disruption could “critically undermine” progress made towards better access to birth control, reducing gender-based violence and improving maternal health.

If the first numbers had come out, the result would have been “catastrophic,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, the executive director of UNFPA, in a phone interview with CBS News. Kanem said an “assembly of the international community” was responsible for averting this scenario.

Kanem said creative solutions have helped many women gain access to contraception despite government bans and quarantine. in the Uganda, for example, rerouted a UNFPA-led project riders to move reproductive health products from pharmacies to patients.

However, Thursday’s report said that even the reduced numbers are still a “problem” and that “the serious social and economic impact of COVID-19 requires increased action for women and girls”.

“Once again, the fundamental story is that COVID has actually ravaged women’s bodies and their lives,” Kanem said. “Women affected by this disorder could have lifelong effects.”

Thursday’s data follows a familiar topic: With the coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns and economic consequences wreaking havoc around the world, women bear the brunt of it. In the United States, more than 2 million women It left the workforce last year, pushing women’s participation to its lowest level since 1988. Significant job losses in women-dominated industries such as hospitality and retail have disproportionately affected women around the world, while widespread school and daycare closings have affected women Choice have forced paid work and childcare.

Many experts, including Kanem, say that access to birth control has long been considered an essential part of women’s success in the workplace. As vaccination efforts continue and life slowly returns to normal, access to contraception will be a critical factor in restoring women’s employment and educational opportunities, Kanem said.

“Too often sexual and reproductive health services are portrayed as a luxury, but they are an absolute necessity,” Kanem said.

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