Promote, Prioritize, and Invest in Reproductive Health and Family Planning During COVID-19

This “call to action construction tool” for family planning advocates was developed by FP2020 in partnership with PAI, AFP, Jhpiego and Pathfinder.

In many countries, health systems are under-resourced and understaffed. The COVID-19 pandemic is placing additional strain and burden on these already-weakened health systems. Primary health care systems, which are the entry point for basic health services — including family planning, antenatal and neonatal care, and vaccinations — will be particularly at risk of collapse. Despite this disruption, the need for RH and FP will not change. For most women and girls, family planning is critical, basic health care.

Maintaining access to essential sexual and reproductive health services and supplies alongside new investments that enable the health system to respond to COVID-19 can not only help ensure better health outcomes for communities but also create more sustainable pathways for economic recovery post-pandemic.

As governments seek to prioritize resources and health interventions, it is critical that these efforts are crafted with an age-specific and gender-focused lens and integrate reproductive health and family information, services, and supplies into pandemic response. Not only do women face specific structural, social, and individual barriers to care, they also comprise the majority of the health care workforce. At the household level, they are primary caregivers, placing them at greater risk of infection

Youth and adolescents — especially those who are unmarried — face specific barriers to care that must be addressed. Restrictions on mobility make it even more difficult for young people to access high-quality, respectful, and confidential care. Limited mobility due to lockdowns increases the risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) at home, contributing to unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Additionally, financial barriers restrict their abilities to get family planning methods of their choice as provision shifts more towards pharmacies and other private clinics.