Impact of COVID-19 on sexual reproductive health

Sexual reproductive health is an essential part of health in any woman’s life. Care of her reproductive organs, availability of contraceptives and services at her disposal is a basic need. Despite this being necessary, there are 500 gynaecologists in Kenya. Out of the 25 million women in Kenya, 15 million require regular gynaecological services yet on a few women visit gynaecologists on need basis.

In Kenya, the health act states , it is a fundamental duty of the State to observe, respect, protect, promote and fulfill the right to the highest attainable standard of health including reproductive health care and emergency medical treatment. This however is normally not the case.

There has always been activism, advocacy and civic education to shed light and educate women on their right to access reproductive health. This however has been faced with challenges such as inadequate medical facilities or equipment, lack of finances and majorly cultural influence despite levels of education.

Many patients still do not understand their right to health as envisioned in the constitution, the right to information, to confidentiality, to informed consent, to a second opinion, or to the best available quality of healthcare.

With the coronavirus pandemic over the world, services as Reproductive health have been crippled with medical personnel focusing highly on the respiratory based diseases and supplies of contraceptives running low. Most women are also refraining from visiting health facilities due to fears about COVID-19 exposure or due to movement restrictions. This increases the risk of more cases of unplanned pregnancies and to some extent uncouth abortions.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report , a lock down of 3 months would prevent about additional 2 million women in the world from accessing modern contraceptive methods. It further explains if the lock down continues for 6 months and there are major service disruptions due to COVID-19, an additional 7 million unintended pregnancies may to occur. The number of unintended pregnancies will increase as the lock down continues and services disruptions are extended.

This has led to increased activism because many women and men are suffering with lack of contraceptives, reproductive health care or information. #SRHRisessential is among the leading hashtags trying to get the government allow reproductive health to be listed as essential service and be considered in this coronavirus pandemic. Below is a sample of tweetchats that are set to push for the consideration and urgency of sexual reproductive health.

Every man and woman is required to have access to reproductive health information given by a medical personnel. It’s high time the government budgeted and emphasized the importance of reproductive health during this period. What is your take on reproductive health?

Do not forget to wash hands, sanitize, keep social distance and stay safe.

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