UNFPA COVID-19 Updates- Reproductive Health During Coronavirus

A simulation of childbirth in an infection prevention and control situation taking place in an environment sensitive to the Ebola virus. Such an approach could also be used with women delivering during the coronavirus outbreak. © UNFPA DRC

In times of crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare systems are overburdened. Providing essential care – like family planning, prenatal and delivery care, and care after experiencing gender-based violence – becomes more challenging. UNFPA, the United Nations reproductive health and rights agency, is continuing to reach the world’s women and girls with care, despite the ongoing crisis.

Below, we provide regular updates on the impact of the virus on sexual and reproductive health and on UNFPA’s response.

COVID-19 Updates:

July 30
July 28
July 17
July 16
July 11
  • Today is World Population Day. COVID-19 has sickened at least 12 million people and killed more than half a million people. With no end to the virus in sight, UNFPA examines how the pandemic has affected everyone, but especially women and girls.
July 9
July 1
June 28
June 23
June 2
May 22
May 15
May 14
May 4
April 29
  • COVID-19 will have huge long-term health consequences for millions of women and girls around the world. Already, UNFPA is projecting that there will be 7 million additional unintended pregnancies, 31 million additional acts of gender-based violence, 47 million women without access to contraceptives, 2 million additional cases of female genital mutilation, and 13 million more child brides. Many women will face infringements on their rights, making it even more important for individuals, governments, NGOs, and other UN agencies to support UNFPA’s lifesaving work.
April 23
  • In Liberia, past Ebola efforts inform the COVID-19 response. Six years ago, the Ebola epidemic caused widespread fear in Liberia. So much was unknown about the deadly disease. Today, the coronavirus pandemic has put Liberians in the same position. UNFPA staff provided care through Ebola then and are implementing disease tracking now to contain the virus.
April 21
April 12
  • The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Yemen. Years of conflict have led to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis there, with 80 percent of the country – 24.1 million people – requiring aid. The coronavirus outbreak there will almost certainly have dire consequences for the Yemeni people. UNFPA is the sole provider of reproductive healthcare in the country.
April 10
April 3
March 31
  • Fathers in Georgia are stepping up to help their wives with childcare and household chores. During the COVID-19 outbreak, billions of people around the globe are staying home. Traditionally, women have taken on the lion’s share of domestic work and this workload has only increased as more time is spent in the home. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, UNFPA urged husbands and fathers to take on a more equitable share of household work, but now, the need is even greater.
March 27
  • Nearly 70% of global health organizations are run by a man, while 70% of healthcare workers are women. This disparity leaves women and girls behind- they are less likely to have access to the care they need, they are less likely to have their symptoms taken seriously by doctors, and healthcare providers are less likely to have their needs met by the systems they work for. UNFPA has been advocating for the health of women and girls, who are at increased risk for domestic violence during quarantines, and caregivers who are more likely to become sick or infect their families.
March 24
  • Afghanistan recently confirmed their first death from coronavirus. The man was 40 years old and represents the growing possibility that coronavirus does not only affect the elderly. Further, there is growing concern about when the virus will reach Yemen and Syria, two areas that have faced years of internal conflict. The people there have been without secure food and healthcare sources for years and are effectively immunosuppressed. A COVID-19 outbreak will almost certainly take hundreds of thousands of lives of all ages there.
March 19
  • The Guardian reports that garment workers in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh face incredible poverty as the coronavirus outbreak decreases the demand from Western clothing brands for textiles. Incidents of GBV could increase dramatically as workers stay home during COVID-19. Survivors may have limited ability to access care, including the clinical management of rape and psychosocial counseling. UNFPA is already in these countries providing care and has stepped up its efforts since the beginning of the outbreak.
March 17
  • UNFPA appeals for $60 million to fund their COVID-19 response. These funds would support the continued provision of prenatal and delivery care, family planning, and care after experiencing gender-based violence. Women do not stop requiring these services during a pandemic.
  • UNFPA has noted that incidents of gender-based violence will likely increase during quarantines.
  • UNFPA is further using this money to support the global health infrastructure with supplies, staff, and administrative support, as well as amplifying the advice of public health officials through their communication efforts. 
March 16
March 11
  • The WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. The announcement triggered a series of national and global administrative protocols that expand funding for public health efforts, medical care, and research. “Pandemic” indicates that a disease has spread to several countries or continents, usually quite rapidly. This is a step higher in urgency than the classification of “epidemic” or “outbreak” which each describe a disease that has spread to a region or community, respectively. The WHO’s announcement does not indicate that COVID-19 has become more deadly or virulent, just that it circulating in a larger area.

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