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Looking ahead in the COVID-19 pandemic: emerging lessons learned for sexual and reproductive health services in low- and middle-income countries

Banke-Thomas, Aduragbemi ORCID: 0000-0002-4449-0131 and Yaya, Sanni (2021) Looking ahead in the COVID-19 pandemic: emerging lessons learned for sexual and reproductive health services in low- and middle-income countries. Reproductive Health, 18 (1). ISSN 1742-4755

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Identification Number: 10.1186/s12978-021-01307-4

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption to essential health service provision globally, including in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Recognising the criticality of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, we review the actual reported impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SRH service provision and evidence of adaptations that have been implemented to date. Across LMICs, the available data suggests that there was a reduction in access to SRH services, including family planning (FP) counselling and contraception access, and safe abortion during the early phase of the pandemic, especially when movement restrictions were in place. However, services were quickly restored, or alternatives to service provision (adaptations) were explored in many LMICs. Cases of gender-based violence (GBV) increased, with one in two women reporting that they have or know a woman who has experienced violence since the beginning of the pandemic. As per available evidence, many adaptations that have been implemented to date have been digitised, focused on getting SRH services closer to women. Through the pandemic, several LMIC governments have provided guidelines to support SRH service delivery. In addition, non-governmental organisations working in SRH programming have played significant roles in ensuring SRH services have been sustained by implementing several interventions at different levels of scale and to varying success. Most adaptations have focused on FP, with limited attention placed on GBV. Many adaptations have been implemented based on guidance and best practices and, in many cases, leveraged evidence-based interventions. However, some adaptations appear to have simply been the sensible thing to do. Where evaluations have been carried out, many have highlighted increased outputs and efficiency following the implementation of various adaptations. However, there is limited published evidence on their effectiveness, cost, value for money, acceptability, feasibility, and sustainability. In addition, the pandemic has been viewed as a homogenous event without recognising its troughs and waves or disentangling effects of response measures such as lockdowns from the pandemic itself. As the pandemic continues, neglected SRH services like those targeting GBV need to be urgently scaled up, and those being implemented with any adaptations should be rigorously tested.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral....
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: LSE Health
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2022 11:09
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2022 15:51
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/113356

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