Health consequences of COVID-19 for girls and women
The COVID-19 pandemic and response measures are having a severe impact on the provision of health services – especially in countries where health systems are already weak without them.
Women and girls in all their diversity are feeling the burden of COVID-19 on health systems in particular. In many places, health services are not only restricted but also not used by many people due to fear of infection or curfews. These restrictions particularly affect SRHR services and products such as contraceptives and hygiene products for women. Self-determined family planning is massively restricted by the pandemic.
Impact of COVID-19 on women's health:
Women account for 70% of health workers, who face three times the risk of infection.x
More than 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries could lose access to modern family planning methods as a result of limited health services and products, much of it on the African continent. As a result, there could be 7 million unplanned pregnancies in these countries.x
According to data from the WHO Africa Regional Office, the number of professionally attended births decreased significantly, for example in Zimbabwe, where the number of caesarean sections fell by 42% between January and April 2020 compared to the same period last year.x
School closures resulted in a massive reduction of comprehensive sex education, putting sexual and reproductive health at risk.
Given the strong, gendered impact of the pandemic, it is vital that response plans to the COVID-19 pandemic specifically address women's experiences and needs.
Sexual and reproductive health services must be recognised as "essential services" in all countries and resourced accordingly to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted and every birth is safe.
- Source: International Labour Organization (2020): Women health workers: Working relentlessly in hospitals and at home.
- Source: UNFPA (2020): New UNFPA projections predict calamitous impact on women’s health as COVID-19 pandemic continues.
- Source: World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (2020): WHO concerned over COVID-19 impact on women, girls in Africa.