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Ensure access to contraception in era of COVID-19

A laboratory worker places a test tube containing a patient's sample into a box during coronavirus detection tests in the virology research labs at UZ Leuven university hospital in Leuven, Belgium, on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. China has kick-started a clinical trial to speedily test a drug for the novel coronavirus infection as the nation rushes therapies for those afflicted and scours for vaccines to protect the rest. Photographer: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg via Getty Images

MARGARET CHISANGA, Lusaka
IN THE face of facility service disruptions due to COVID-19, health care providers, particularly in low and middle-income countries, have been urged to strive to maintain continuity of reproductive health care to women and girls as an essential service.
When in-person encounters are limited, health care providers should adapt the way contraceptive services are provided by using telehealth whenever possible for counselling, shared decision making, and side-effect management, and should make adjustments to provision of contraceptive methods to ensure access.
This is contained in a report published by the Global Health: Science and Practice titled Contraception in the Era of COVID-19 in the gshpjournal.
“Even while annual exams and nonurgent appointments are cancelled, maintaining access to reproductive health services, including provision of contraception, is key to a comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation strategy and to sustaining the successes of high-quality family planning services that contribute to lowering maternal mortality and improving new-born and child health,” the report reads.
It urges that health care providers should strive to ensure continuity of reproductive health care to women and girls through using a number of systems that would maintain social distancing.
“Public health measures recommended by the World Health Organisation require social distancing and so a number of adaptations to existing systems are required. In particular, maximising the use of a “no touch” approach to care whenever possible is essential,” the report reads.
The recommended measures include the use of Telehealth for counselling and screening to counsel new clients requesting contraception and to screen for medical eligibility.
This includes the use of various communication methods that do not require in-person contact such as SMS, WhatsApp, video calls or telephone calls.
In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) affirmed that Sexual and Reproductive Health and rights (SRH&R) are human rights. Pursuant to this, several international instruments contributed to global consensus on how reproductive health rights are intrinsically linked to other fundamental human rights.
According to a policy statement titled Status of Sexual and Reproductive health and rights in Zambia, the Government has fully committed to fulfilling the SRH&R of all people by ratifying 11 international instruments of law.



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