Sexual and reproductive health services need special attention: experts

To ensure emergency reproductive healthcare and family planning services for women and adolescents, government and NGOs must work together, urged speakers at an online dialogue titled “Reproductive Health Services for Women and Adolescents in COVID-19: Perspective Bangladesh”, organised by Marie Stopes Bangladesh and Team Associates on Tuesday night.

Mashrurul Islam, country director of Marie Stopes Bangladesh said, due to the global pandemic, child and maternal mortality rate in low and middle-income countries is expected to increase in the coming days since coverage and access to family planning services might have been reduced by around 10 percent.  “The contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) has decreased already, and the number of unsafe abortions has also shot up. In addition to that, postpartum family planning services have also been disrupted greatly,” he said at the programme.

Citing the news reports and surveys conducted by various organisations, Mashrurul also mentioned that the rate of child marriage and the incidents of violence against women have increased as well during the pandemic.

However, Member of Parliament Syeda Rubina Akhter highlighted the various steps taken by the governments to ensure women’s reproductive health services. She said steps have been taken to ensure that not a single incident of abortion happens under risk. “Community clinics have been activated across the country and field workers have been making door to door visits to provide services. Besides, maternity allowance is also being provided,” she added.

Member of Parliament Gloria Jharna Sarkar said along with taking all necessary steps to ensure reproductive health services, the government has taken steps to protect women’s rights. “As a result of effective measures taken by the government, maternal mortality and infant mortality rates slowed down in the country. Special initiatives have also been taken to ensure maximum services to pregnant mothers and newborns from the beginning of this pandemic,” she said.

Manjun Nahar, focal person of Strengthening Family Planning Services through Advocacy initiative of Advance Family Planning (AFP) Media Advocacy; Jasmine Prema, chairperson of Samaj Kalyan Unnayan Shangstha (SKUS); SM Shaikat, executive director of SERAC-Bangladesh took part in the dialogue moderated by journalist Nikhil Bhadra.

Source: The Daily Star 

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