Lack of Family Planning Access Due to COVID-19 Could Cause a Rise in Unintended Pregnancies in Indonesia

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A family planning board is predicting an uptick in unintended pregnancies in Indonesia as condoms and other forms of birth control are becoming less available amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) runs family planning programs in Indonesia and serves 28 million people, according to the Strait Times. The board found that about 10% of its beneficiaries in 34 provinces had difficulty accessing birth control in March alone.

Strained health systems worldwide are pivoting resources to treat COVID-19 patients, and women are finding it more difficult to receive the family planning information and services they need.

BKKBN estimates a one-month decline in contraceptive use in Indonesia could increase pregnancies by 15%, resulting in around 420,00 pregnancies, within one to three months. If people continue to lack access to contraception, pregnancies could increase by as much as 30%, resulting in more than 800,000 pregnancies, within another few months.

The board has seen a decrease in contraceptive use in multiple forms, including implants, injections, and vasectomies. Many health centers have shut down and the open ones are limiting the number of patients they can treat, according to the board’s chief Hasto Wardoyo.

Low-income families are especially at risk since they rely on BKKBN health centers and midwives to access free contraceptives, Wardoyo told the Strait Times. Young women living in cities who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 are particularly vulnerable if they went back home to their families where they were forced into marriage, according to Dr. Augustina Situmorang from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.