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COVID-19 pandemic

What you need to know

The COVID-19 pandemic is straining public health systems, triggering unprecedented measures by governments around the world. Stress, limited mobility and livelihood disruptions increase women’s and girls’ vulnerability to gender-based violence and exploitation. When health systems redirect resources away from sexual and reproductive health services, women’s access to family planning, antenatal care and other critical services suffer. 

The unprecedented consequences of the pandemic and the restrictive measures imposed by most countries have negatively impacted access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services and prevention and response to gender-based violence in times where women and girls need these services most. 

Women represent 70% of the health and social sector workforce globally and 80% of nurses in South East Asia and the Western Pacific (WHO). As women are disproportionately represented in the health and social services sectors, increasing their risk of exposure to the disease, special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers.

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What are we doing?

UNFPA in Asia and the Pacific will ensure the continuity of national and local health system capacity to provide access to integrated quality sexual and reproductive health, including ensuring safe delivery, mental health and psychosocial support, family planning and gender-based violence services. 

UNFPA will mitigate the impact on supply chain and logistics management for sexual and reproductive health supplies, ensuring continuity of supplies and care for lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services. 

UNFPA will provide and protect health workers (in particular midwives, nurses, obstetricians and anesthesiologists) by ensuring that basic personal protection equipment is available.

UNFPA will provide risk communication and community engagement for primary prevention and stigma reduction, addressing the needs of women of reproductive age. 

UNFPA will distribute dignity/hygiene kits to ensure that women receive essential items while being provided with gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and COVID-19 risk mitigation information.

 

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Resources

Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently, and pandemics make existing inequalities for women and girls and discrimination of other marginalised groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty, worse. This needs to be considered, given the different impacts surrounding detection and access to treatment for women and men.

Additional information and technical guidance are available at the links below.

COVID-19: A Gender Lens    Global Response Appeal    Modern Contraceptives    GBV and Coronavirus 
Maternal and Newborn Health & COVID-19    Young People & Coronavirus    
Implications of COVID-19 on Census
COVID-19 Technical Brief for Maternity Services   UNFPA Global Response Plan   COVID-19  Frequently Asked Questions

 

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