Source: Namibian

DUE to the Covid-19 lockdown Namibians have been uncertain about whether family planning services are still available.

Dennia Gayle, country representative of the United Nations Population Fund, on Monday said it is vital that young people know clinics and hospitals are still offering family planning services.

Gayle shared her concerns at the Covid-19 Communication Centre yesterday.

She said the health system is currently focused on responding to Covid-19 and related healthcare needs in the country, but these services are still available.

"The services can be accessed if needed. It may be slow and people may have to adhere to additional protocols, but this should not deter them," Gayle said.

She said the UNFPA is providing healthcare workers with virtual training to equip them to deal with Covid-19 while still providing other services.

Mobile clinics would be used to provide young people with these services, Gayle said.

In a media statement issued yesterday, the UNFPA claimed that due to global lockdown regulations, 47 million women could lose access to contraception, and this could lead to seven million unplanned pregnancies in the coming months.

According to the fund, research shows women's health will be heavily impacted as they are bound to have little access to facilities due to them being closed or providing limited services.

"Many choose to skip important medical check-ups for fear of contracting the virus. Global supply chain disruptions may also lead to a significant shortage of contraceptives, and gender-based violence is expected to soar as women are trapped at home for prolonged periods of time," the statement reads.

The UNFPA claims new data shows how catastrophic the impact of Covid-19 is as it is intensifying inequalities while millions of women and girls are risking losing their ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and health.

Natalia Kanem, executive director of the UNFPA said women's reproductive health and rights must be safeguarded at all costs.

"Services must continue. Supplies must be delivered and the vulnerable must be protected and supported," she said.

She said 31 million additional gender-based violence cases can be expected if the lockdown continues for at least six months.

The fund states two million female genitalmutilation cases may occur and 13 million child marriages could take place.

Some residents in Windhoek's informal settlements claim they have been told to use condoms since family planning services are currently unavailable.

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