COVID-19 should not relegate sexual and reproductive health needs
By Olivia Nakisita | When people are faced with emergency situations their sexual and reproductive health needs do not disappear. As the rest are fighting COVID 19 and measures being put up like quarantine, we need to have urgent coordination for reproductive health. People have a right to information and service.
- People have a right to safe and satisfying sex and they are going to have it anyway. We need to avail them with condoms to protect them against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, we should not forget information on staying safe.
- People are likely to have unplanned, unintended and unwanted pregnancies. We need to provide them with appropriate information on family planning and avail them with free or affordable services.
- We have to ensure continued antenatal care and emergency care services so that women do not die during or after pregnancy, and make sure all newborns do not fall sick or die.
- Girls and women continue to have their menstrual periods. We have to ensure that their hygiene is kept by availing sanitary products. Many are locked down and cannot afford them.
- Sexual and gender-based violence are likely to increase. People have no food, the girls and women are likely to be sexually exploited for food and other financial gains. Domestic violence will be on the increase too. We have to give the right information to the people but also put up centers where victims can run to.
- Sexual and reproductive health issues should be integrated in all community level COVID 19 activities. As people are told to wash their hands and stay safe, they should be told about abstaining, use of condoms, family planning, seeking antenatal care, delivery at a health facility and protection from sexual and gender-based violence.
As we win the battle on COVID 19 let’s not lose the one on sexual and reproductive health. All lives matter.
*The author is a Public Health Specialist and Social Scientist at MakSPH.