By Henry Okonkwo
The United Nations Population Fund said COVID-19 has disrupted healthcare systems and affected reproductive health around the world.
UNFPA disclosed this in a statement to mark the 2021 World Population Day on Monday.
The statement read, “The COVID-19 pandemic had compromised health care systems particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health.
“It also exposed and exacerbated gender-based inequities, gender-based violence increased under lockdown, as did the risk of child marriage and female genital mutilation as programmes to abolish the harmful practices were disrupted.
“Many countries are expressing growing concern over changing fertility rates. Historically, alarmism over fertility rates has led to abrogations of human rights.”
Also, the UN Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, said in his message that erosion of women’s reproductive rights has been one of the fallouts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guterres called for closing gaps in access to sexual and reproductive health services which the pandemic had created by ensuring reproductive health rights for all.
In addition to the millions of lives tragically lost, there has been a less visible toll, a shocking rise in domestic violence as women were forced into isolation with their abusers, empty maternity wards as women postponed motherhood and unintended pregnancies due to curtailed access to contraceptive services.
He said, “In every corner of the world, we are seeing a reversal of hard-won gains and an erosion of women’s reproductive rights. With the onset of the pandemic, resources for sexual and reproductive health services were diverted.
“These gaps in access to health rights are unacceptable. Women cannot be alone in this fight.
“As we mark World Population Day, let us pledge to ensure the reproductive health rights of everyone, everywhere.”