COVID 19 Impact: Family Planning programme to take a 15-23 per cent hit in 2020
An unintended fallout of the nationwide lockdown since 25th March is the inability of millions of women to access their choice of contraception. The lockdown has meant a compromise on the access to and use of contraception to a large extent.
In line with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India’s advisory, public facilities have suspended provision of sterilisations and IUCDs till further notice. Curbs on movement have made access to over the counter contraceptives, Condoms, OCPs and ECPs difficult.
In an attempt to understand the impact, Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India (FRHS India) the country’s largest provider of clinical family planning services in the private/NGO sector has released a policy brief highlighting the estimates of the loss of services.
Dip in the use of contraceptives
FRHS India has made use of secondary sources such as Health Management Information System (HMIS), Social Marketing Statistics and retail audit data to arrive at the potential loss of sales and services in 2020 and the resultant impact on health indicators.
The estimate is that 25.6 million couples would have not been able to access contraception services during the period of the lockdown and weeks leading up to complete normalcy, i.e. September 2020 which is likely to result in an additional 2.38 million unintended pregnancies, 679,864 childbirths, 1.45 million abortions (including 834,042 unsafe abortions) and 1,743 maternal deaths.
The disruption in family planning services during the lockdown will result in increased demand for sterilisation and abortion services once the lockdown is eased/ lifted. That can be an added pressure on our health systems and can be overwhelming.
The overall adverse impact on FP programme in 2020 is estimated to be between 15 to -23 per cent in terms of Couple Years of Protection compared to 2019.