SRHR and Lessons from the COVID 19 Pandemic
With Covid-19 still in the country and pockets of the new variant being reported, the healthcare system is stretched to levels that the Ministry of Health might be unable to contain if new measures and interventions are not developed or introduced.
Generally, access to, and uptake of, reproductive health information and services has fallen, owing to the pandemic. Most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have cut on tasks and aligned their work towards fighting Covid-19.
Fear of contracting the virus is one of the main reasons why the public has reduced the uptake and access of not only general services in health facilities but also sexual and reproductive health and rights services (SRHS).
Some of the vital SRHSs are access to sexual-and gender-based violence (SGBV) services, antenatal care for pregnant women, access to safe abortion services for sexual violence survivors, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and post-abortion care for adolescents and other young people.
Remember, sexual activities do not stop for pandemics. Care and services around SRHR should be declared essential, especially during these times of the devastating Covid19 global pandemic.
Otherwise, we shall witness a shadow pandemic post-Covid-19, where the country would be fighting to contain influx of disease burden around sexual and reproductive health such as menstruation, sexual intercourse, conception, antenatal care, female genital mutilation, domestic violence and unsafe abortion.
Through strengthening and intensifying its efforts to unburden the health systems, the ministry and its partners should prioritise care and services around SRHR.
It is particularly dangerous when we have many young people idling at home due to unemployment and disruption of provision of some services in several sectors, a situation occasioned by the pandemic.