The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected health systems and health care access including sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The healthcare industry had to restructure its services to meet the immediate demands of the pandemic. This restructuring has led to a serious disruption of reproductive maternal and neonatal health services.
This global online study surveyed professionals involved in sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) from around 62 countries. The survey was answered by professionals representing 29 countries. It provides a quantitative and qualitative account of the impact of the pandemic on SRHR through the voices of providers, researchers, and organizations working towards advancing women's health and rights. The study analyzed the pandemic's impact on SRHR in terms of access to SRHR services and governments' responses to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on these services.
The study revealed that most countries represented in the survey had seen an overall decrease in access to abortion, contraceptive, and GBV/SV support services. The effect was most detrimental on women who were already suffering from lack to SRHR services before the pandemic. The qualitative analysis of responses showed a consensus on the lack of political will to support the advancement of SRHR, which is fundamental to ensuring both continued access during the pandemic and, in a minority of cases, the solidification of gains made to SRHR prior to the crisis. The study recommends using the current pandemic as an opportunity to advance SRHR services by providing a comprehensive health care plan. A plan that acknowledges the emergency of the COVID-19 response and takes into consideration other health needs of populations.