COVID Lockdown Has Hurt Women’s Health, Mental Health: WHO

“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens our shared vision for helping end preventable maternal deaths.”

2 min read
“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens our shared vision for helping end preventable maternal deaths,”said Mary-Ann Etiebet, executive director of Merck for Mothers

As the coronavirus pandemic has taken over the world, services considered ‘non-essential’ have been badly hit. Unfortunately, these include healthcare services for women, girls and non-binary people.

In a media address on 12 June, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said,

“As the pandemic accelerates in low- and middle-income countries, WHO is especially concerned about its impact on people who already struggle to access health services – often women, children and adolescents.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

As FIT previously documented, when there is a burden on healthcare systems, people who are already disenfranchised are hurt most. Like Ghebreyesus added, “Because the pandemic has overwhelmed health systems in many places, women may have a heightened risk of dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.”

Data from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) found that the lockdown and disturbances in healthcare services could result in over seven million unintended pregnancies in the coming months. Moreover, about 47 million women would not have access to contraceptive methods.

The UNFPA statement also showers light on a further increment of 31 million cases of gender-based violence (shadow pandemic) over six months of lockdown.

During the pandemic, there's an aggravation of limited access to treatments and services, putting women's health and lives in danger.

“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens our shared vision for helping end preventable maternal deaths,” Mary-Ann Etiebet, the executive director of Merck for Mothers, said during the briefing.

There are many existing reasons like unavailability of midwives, personal protective materials, irregular or missed prenatal visits, congested or unclean birth environment, lack of access to medications known for helping reduce maternal mortality rates

“The WHO has developed guidance for health facilities and community activities on maintaining essential services, including for women, newborns, children and adolescents,” said Ghebreyesus.

Mental Health Affected: UN

The lockdown has also reduced access to mental health services. Ghebreyesus noted that with the closure of schools, many children and adolescents wil have lost out on mental health services offered at their place of education.

“WHO has developed guidance on self-care interventions for health which can be rapidly introduced in countries to save and improve lives.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

Etiebet added, "We cannot afford to look back on the next 10 years as the decade of picking up the pieces and rebuilding trust in the ability of health systems to deliver on essential services for women and children.

(With inputs from the World Health Organisation)

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