Prasharam BC, Public health student
Every year the National Family Planning Day is celebrated on 18th September to raise the awareness about the family planning and its importance. The theme of the 7th National Family Planning Day 2020 is “continuity to quality family planning services during COVID-19 pandemic”.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on the delivery system of sexual and reproductive healthcare. Many people are spending more time at home, which has increased the possibility of increased pregnancies, which may be due to planning of family, increased unprotected sex or increased sexual activity because couples are less occupied by other recreational activities outside of the home. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal, reports have indicated that the utilization of sexual and reproductive health services including family planning are beginning to decline due to restricted mobility.
Family planning offers many benefits, including empowering women to choose how many children they have, better health and survival of mothers and children, a reduction in poverty and a better educated population.
The benefits of family planning are as follows;
Benefits for mother
- Helps mother to regain her health after delivery.
- Helps to provide more time to mother for other activities including career growth.
- Gives enough time and opportunity to love and provide attention to her husband and children.
- Enables to get enough time for treatment and recovery during suffering from illnesses.
Benefits for children
- Healthy mothers produce healthy children.
- Get more love, security and care.
Benefits to Father
- Lightens the burden and responsibility in supporting his family.
- Gives him time for his family and his personal advancement.
- Enables Less financial burden.
- When suffering from illnesses, gives enough time for treatment and recovery.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused tremendous upheaval to health system, disrupting access to family planning services, as well as sexual and reproductive health more broadly. Despite this disruption, the need for family planning remains the same. For women, family planning is critical, basic health care. The provision of long-acting reversible contraception has been reduced due to social distancing requirements. However, pharmacies remain open which means that the emergency contraceptive pills and condoms are accessible. But in the future, there is a probability that the usual contraceptive methods (especially short-acting reversible methods such as condoms and pills) will only be available for limited period of time and couples are likely to run out of stocks quite soon.
The situation is more complex for couples who had not been using a method earlier and were planning to start one around this time. Because for new couples using reversible contraceptive methods, there might be need for replacement (due to side effects, complications) or switching to another method, which could be relatively difficult due to limitations in access to health services caused by lockdown.
Measures implemented to contain the epidemic control such as lockdown and suspension of public transportation have affected access to healthcare services including walking for family planning services.
As health system shift to prevent and treat people with COVID-19, it is essential they also protect access to family planning services. The sexual and reproductive health, including family planning should be focused during COVID-19 pandemic and post COVID-19.
Prasharam BC, BPH 5th semester, National Academy for Medical Sciences (NAMS) Kathmandu, Purbanchal University
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