Asaba, April 24, 2020. Prof. Josiah Mutihir a Family Planing expert has said that the lockdown occasioned by Covid-19 has negatively impacted access to family planning information and services worldwide.
Mutihir, a Guest Speaker, stated this in a paper delivered at the Development Communications (DevComs) Network Zoom Meeting with the theme, “Why Access to Contraception is Critical in Covid-19 Response” which was made available to newsmen on Friday in Asaba.
He said that due to the pandemic, families were compelled to stay home, day and night for periods of between one to 12 weeks depending on the country or state.
He noted that since April 22 more than 182,000 deaths have been reported from Covid-19 globally, and that health systems have concentrated on the limiting of the impact of the pandemic.
He said though the pandemic has had and still has enormous effects on all economies worldwide, adding that individuals, families, communities have been hit by poor resources to meet basic needs including feeding.
“This lockdown has brought the husband and wife or spouses face to face for long periods. Idleness has set in, and increased sexual desires and activity result.
“Where the woman is not protected, unwanted pregnancy is likely the outcome in most instances where the woman is still in the reproductive age and is not on any method of contraception,” he said.
He, however, observed that there were other important health issues with far reaching consequences that cannot be ignored, notably family planning and Reproductive health.
According to him, the need for family planning does not disappear during a pandemic and therefore should not be ignored or neglected.
“Already, there has been the disruption of supply chains of contraceptive commodities, closure of health clinics providing FP information, counselling, and public fear about visiting health facilities at this time of lockdown.
“The gains in uptake of modern FP methods in the country over the years is likely to be lost during the pandemic with serious short, medium and long-term consequences.
“Family planning is a life-saving intervention mitigating increased morbidity and mortality resulting from unintended pregnancies.
“It is estimated that a 10% proportional decline in the use of contraceptive methods, caused by reduced access worldwide, will result in additional 49 million women with unmet need for FP, and 15 million unintended pregnancies within a year”.
Mutihir, therefore, recommended that adequate and clear information for the public on family planning methods, using telehealth, particularly the natural and other methods for practice at a time of dire need when the other methods cannot be accessed.
He said that public enlightenment to sensitise the people on availability of Contraceptive Methods in the Pharmacies, which were opened during the lockdown.
“That relevant authorities should put accessing family planning service as essential service and should be included on the exemption list for restricted movements.
“That the Reproductive Health department of Federal Ministry of Health should come up with strategies to provide commodities using the last-mile distribution network to get as far as possible to the grassroots at this time
“That free commodities in addition to free consumables at this time to make unfettered access to all clients including Private Clinics, Not-for Profit health Facilities, Private Pharmacies, others.
“That strategies or devising ways of reaching out to the sexually active persons in particular, with various contraceptive methods.
Encourage the use of family planning Apps where nothing else is available to be used in combination with the condoms, spermicides, others and;
“Family planning clinics to re-open and be treated as essential service, and that clients seeking FP be allowed unfettered access and supported by the MEN.