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 Table of Contents  
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 143-144

Strengthening the delivery of sexual and reproductive health to women amidst the threat of ongoing corona virus disease 2019 pandemic


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission21-Mar-2020
Date of Acceptance24-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication20-Aug-2020

Correspondence Address:
Prateek S Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/joacc.JOACC_24_20

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  Abstract 


The ongoing Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has emerged as one of the top most public health priorities and that all the global population is at the risk to acquire the infection. However, amidst all these developments, it should not happen that the needs of the women and girls are ignored by the public health authorities. It is very much obvious that women and girls are more exposed to the risk of acquiring the infection and also that their essential sexual and reproductive health needs will take a back seat. Moreover, we hope that the issue of maternal health continues to remain a public health priority across all nations and under no circumstances, pregnant women are deprived of routine quality assured health care, access to information & counseling for safe delivery and infection control strategies in the health care establishments. In conclusion, amidst the battle of mankind against the COVID-19 infection, the need of the hour is to simultaneously ensure uninterrupted delivery of gender-sensitive services as the consequences of the disease for women and girls goes way beyond the caseload and attributed mortality.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, Women, Sexual and reproductive health, World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Strengthening the delivery of sexual and reproductive health to women amidst the threat of ongoing corona virus disease 2019 pandemic. J Obstet Anaesth Crit Care 2020;10:143-4

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Strengthening the delivery of sexual and reproductive health to women amidst the threat of ongoing corona virus disease 2019 pandemic. J Obstet Anaesth Crit Care [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Dec 2];10:143-4. Available from: https://www.joacc.com/text.asp?2020/10/2/143/292732




  Introduction Top


The ongoing Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has emerged as one of the top most public health priorities and that all the global population is at the risk to acquire the infection. The available estimates depict that a total of 234073 cases and 9840 deaths has been reported across the world in more than 150 affected nations and territories since the start of the outbreak in China.[1] In terms of global caseload, the European region (104591 cases) has gone beyond the Western Pacific region (93349). Together they account for almost 84.5% of the reported cases.[1] It is important to note that none of the population groups or continents is immune to the infection and the caseload and death rates continue to rise with each day. The overall case fatality rate of the infection is 4.2%, while it is worth considering that the case fatality rate has become 4.7% and 6.3% in the European and Eastern Mediterranean region, respectively.[1] In short, seeing these trends, it is the need of the hour to accelerate our preparedness and public health response to the novel viral infection through concerted efforts.[2]

Areas to be strengthened

The disease has redefined the response of the health sector and the national political leaders have implemented various strategies to strengthen various domains of disease control, including active surveillance, capacity building for case detection, infrastructure support for treatment and isolation, establishment of the risk communication system, community engagement and infection prevention and control measures to contain the infection.[2]

Sexual and reproductive health

However, amidst all these developments, it should not happen that the needs of the women and girls are ignored by the public health authorities.[3] Even though precise estimates about the caseload and the severity of the infection with regard to sex is not yet clear, it is very much obvious that women and girls are more exposed to the risk of acquiring the infection and also that their essential sexual and reproductive health needs will take a back seat.[3] Women are expected to be more vulnerable to acquire the infection predominantly because they contribute to more than two third of the global share of health personnel and social service workers.[3],[4]

These women are occupied in the field of health care or social service in the role of nursing staffs, midwives, outreach health workers, etc., and in one or another way are very much involved in taking care of the suspects or confirmed cases of the disease.[3],[4] The other primary reason for the enhancement of the general risk to women and girls is that the pace with which this ongoing pandemic is progressing, the possibility of diversion of resources and logistics/drugs towards the containment of the disease cannot be ruled out.[3]

Reproductive health during COVID-19 pandemic

In fact, it is well known that during the times of humanitarian emergencies or conflicts, services pertaining to the maintenance of sexual and reproductive health are overlooked, but the ground reality is that even during these times, women's basic needs (viz. menstrual health, family planning, pregnancy, maternal health care, etc.) very much exists. In addition, reports from the earlier epidemics have documented evidence that the stress associated with such situations has accounted for augmentation in the risk of domestic abuse and various other forms of gender based violence.[3] In other words, it won't be wrong to put on record that such outbreaks make the existing gender inequality gap even wider, which affects the health seeking behavior, treatment and care aspects.[3]

Consequences of implemented interventions

Closure of schools or workplaces is an important initiative to practice social distancing and reduce the probability of onward transmission.[2] However, from women's perspective, indirectly the entire load of the domestic work has come to them. This has even jeopardized their source of income, which becomes a major cause of concern for women from lower and middle socio-economic status. Even though the findings of the recent studies have indicated that the acquisition of COVID-19 infection does not affect pregnancy outcomes, especially in terms of being more at risk for the development of severe illnesses, a lot of research still needs to be done.[5],[6] However, it is extremely crucial that regardless of the COVID-19 status, pregnant women should be offered all the essential health care services and should be given even more priority, in case they are suffering from respiratory ailments to avoid any untoward pregnancy outcomes.[5],[6]

Steps by United Nations Population Fund

The United Nations Population Fund has realized all these needs of the women and girls during these emergency times of COVID-19 outbreak and appealed to all the health authorities to not to undermine sexual and reproductive health.[3] In addition, efforts have been taken to deliver mask, disinfectants and other personal protective equipment for the health workers and sanitary napkins or adult diapers for the vulnerable population group in China and Philippines.[3] Furthermore, we hope that the issue of maternal health continues to remain a public health priority across all nations and under no circumstances, pregnant women are deprived of routine quality assured health care, access to information and counseling for safe delivery and infection control strategies in the health care establishments.[3],[4],[5],[6]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, amidst the battle of mankind against the COVID-19 infection, the need of the hour is to simultaneously ensure uninterrupted delivery of gender-sensitive services as the consequences of the disease for women and girls goes way beyond the caseload and attributed mortality.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 60; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation- reports/20200320-sitrep-60-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=8894045a_2. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 21].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-3.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
United Nations Population Fund. As pandemic rages, women and girls face intensified risks; 2020. Available from: https://www.unfpa.org/news/pandemic-rages-women-and-girls-face-intensified-risks. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 21].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Tanne JH, Hayasaki E, Zastrow M, Pulla P, Smith P, Rada AG. Covid-19: How doctors and healthcare systems are tackling coronavirus worldwide. BMJ 2020;368:m1090.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Schwartz DA, Graham AL. Potential maternal and infant outcomes from (Wuhan) Coronavirus 2019-nCoV infecting pregnant women: Lessons from SARS, MERS, and other human coronavirus infections. Viruses 2020;12:E194.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Zhu H, Wang L, Fang C, Peng S, Zhang L, Chang G, et al. Clinical analysis of 10 neonates born to mothers with 2019-nCoV pneumonia. Transl Pediatr 2020;9:51-60.  Back to cited text no. 6
    




 

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