Sexual health services essential to COVID-19 response
Rose Caldwell, Chief Executive of Plan international UK responds to new figures from the Guttmacher Institute showing that 49 million women and girls across the world may not be able to access family planning services due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“These are important and serious figures from the Guttmacher Institute and show the urgent need for the global coronavirus response to recognise sexual and reproductive health as part of essential health services. Adolescent girls in particular already face unique barriers to accessing good quality information and services, and the coronavirus crisis risks further compounding the problem particularly through the increased restrictions on their movement.
“Combined with a greater risk of sexual exploitation and gender-based violence in times of crisis, reduced access to health services is likely to mean a rise in early and unwanted pregnancies – already a leading cause of death for adolescent girls around the world. On top of the health risks, early pregnancy can rob girls of their futures by putting an unfair and unnecessary end to their education and preventing them from achieving their potential. School closures due to coronavirus have affected nearly 743 million girls worldwide, depriving many of a protective environment and access to lifesaving sexual health information. It's therefore essential that where distance learning is being offered, this should include information on and referral to sexual and reproductive health services.”