Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Home Life Style Health & Fitness Global Lock Downs Have Limited Women's Ability To Access Health Services

Global Lock Downs Have Limited Women’s Ability To Access Health Services

'Unlikely that Covid-19 will majorly impact India's population projections'

As the world at large continues to lose people to the rising Covid-19 toll, the impact of the pandemic is exacerbated for women and girls. Restrictive social norms and global lockdowns have limited women’s ability to access health services as well as make them more susceptible to health risks and violence, says a population expert, adding that the outbreak will likely not have a major impact on India’s population projections in the next few years.

IANSlife spoke to Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India (PFI), a national NGO that works at the grassroots level with frontline health workers and rural communities on issues pertaining to the sexual health of women, reproductive health of all and use of contraceptives. Excerpts:

Q: Sexual and reproductive health has taken a backseat during the pandemic. With unplanned pregnancies, little maternity facilities, and lack of contraception, how will this reflect on the population trends of India?

A: Evidence from past epidemics have shown that the emergency response leads to the diversion of resources from routine health care services towards containing and responding to the outbreak. These re-allocations constrain already limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, such as clean and safe deliveries, contraceptives, and pre- and post-natal health care.

A similar trend is currently being observed in the aftermath of Covid-19 and lockdown measures. There have been several media reports quoting government sources stating that there has been an almost 40 percent decline in institutional deliveries in several states as a result of the lockdown. This data is however not available in the public domain.

Also Read: COVID-19 May Increase Risk of Blood Clots in Pregnant Women: Researchers

Findings from a five-state study commissioned by Population Foundation of India to assess the impact of Covid-19 on young people, particularly young women and girls, suggest that nearly half (50 percent) or more of frontline workers (ASHAs and ANMs) reported that women were not accessing ante-natal care services. Results from another three-state study by PFI indicate that young people in UP, Bihar, and Rajasthan reported an unmet need for reproductive health services, sanitary pads during the lockdown.

Women's Health Services
Not all women have access to health care. Pixabay

A recent study by FRSHI India estimated that 26 million couples in India will have no access to contraceptives due to the disruption of family planning services due to the lockdown. Another study by IPAS has forewarned that nearly 2 million women will be unable to access abortion services in the near future due to Covid-19.

The long-term implications of the limited availability of essential health services, including sexual and reproductive health services could be severe. UNICEF  NH has estimated that India would have the highest number of forecast births, at 20 million, in the nine months span dating from when Covid-19 was declared a pandemic.

Q: India has a fairly young population, which is also a reason why the death toll is less. Is the demographic dividend coming to our aid?

A: It must be noted that mortality rates for those infected amongst the aged in India have also been low. Unlike many developed countries that have reported a staggering number of infections in old age homes, older people in India mostly live at home and not in old age homes. This has accounted for a lower risk of Covid-19 related mortality along with the fact that we are largely a young nation.

While older people and people with existing comorbidities such as asthma, diabetes, and heart conditions are more susceptible to becoming severely ill with Covid-19, WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves as anyone, regardless of their age, can be infected by Covid-19, given the highly contagious nature of the disease.

Women's Health Services
The Pandemic is making it hard for people, especially girls to access basic facilities. Pixabay

While the need of the hour is to combat Covid-19, this must not be done at the expense of other essential health priorities. In order to leverage our demographic dividend, we must invest in their health and well-being. There is a need to ensure uninterrupted provision of reproductive health services and step up investments in family planning. Studies from across the globe have revealed that investing in family planning is one of the most cost-effective public health measures and a development “best buy”.

Women form half of India’s population and policies and public health efforts have not addressed the gendered impact outbreaks in the past. Across every sphere, from health to the economy, the impact of Covid-19 are exacerbated for women and girls. Restrictive social norms and global lockdowns have limited women’s ability to access health services as well as make them more susceptible to health risks and violence. Multiple responsibilities have also put a severe strain on their mental health. Going forward, we need effective solutions to ensure that women’s health is adequately prioritized if we truly want to leverage India’s demographic dividend.

Q: At the time of speaking, the death toll is 35K+ for India. How do you see Covid-19 altering India’s population projections for the next few years?

A: According to the WHO, most people who get Covid-19 have mild or moderate symptoms and will recover from it. Therefore, going by the existing evidence, it is highly unlikely that Covid-19 would have a major impact on India’s population projections for the next few years. (IANS)



Most Popular

Snapchat Releases Spotlight, To Pay Top Creators

Taking on TikTok, Popular photo-messaging platform Snapchat on Monday officially released Spotlight where Snapchatters will also have the opportunity to earn as they do...

Care For COVID+ Mothers and Newborn Babies

Many COVID-19 positive pregnant women experience mild symptoms of cold or flu. However, pregnant women who are older, overweight, or have pre-existing medical conditions...

MP Govt To Produce Clean Fuel From Stubble Burnt

The Madhya Pradesh government has proposed a plan to set up an industrial unit producing fuel from stubble burnt by the farmers in the...

Felling of 315 Trees When Air Quality is Worse in Delhi

The Delhi High Court on Monday sought a response from the AAP government and others over a petition against an order for felling of...

Cyber Frauds May Increase in India in 2021: Kaspersky

With more users getting connected to the Internet and entering the digital payments ecosystem, cyber fraud incidents may go up in 2021, a researcher...

UP Marks Record in Production And Sales of Sanitizers

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has used the 'opportunity in adversity' concept to create a record of sorts in the production and...

Greater Risks of STI in People Above 45

Researchers have found that people above 45s are at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than ever before because of society's...

SC Happy About Permanent Commission of Women Army Officers

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed happiness after learning that the Centre has implemented its verdict to grant permanent commission to women officers in...

Recent Comments