The coronavirus health crisis has caused a major drop in birth control services, including abortions — operations to end pregnancies. Millions of women and girls around the world are affected.
Almost 2 million fewer women received the services between January and June of this year than in the same period last year. In India alone, the number was 1.3 million. Those are the findings of a new report from Marie Stopes International, or MSI. The organization provides family planning services in 37 countries.
The organization says that, as a result, it expects 900,000 unplanned pregnancies, 1.5 million unsafe abortions and more than 3,000 birth-related deaths will take place around the world.
Kathryn Church is Marie Stopes’ director of global evidence. She said those numbers will likely increase if the services are limited in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The World Health Organization says about 70 countries recently reported problems with family planning services during the COVID-19 crisis. And the U.N. Population Fund warned that the number of unintended pregnancies worldwide could reach much higher, up to 7 million.
Lockdowns, travel restrictions, limited supplies
Health workers said lockdowns, travel restrictions, limited supplies and fear of COVID-19 infection have prevented many women and girls from seeking such services.
A large increase of pregnancies among teenage girls was reported in Kenya. Some girls there used broken glass, sticks and other sharp objects to try to end their pregnancies. The Women Promotion Center reported two girls died of their injuries. Others were left unable to reproduce.
In the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, a major birthing hospital was turned into a COVID-19 treatment center.
The supply for birth control services fell by almost 50 percent in West Africa compared to the same period last year, said the International Planned Parenthood Federation, or IPPF.
“I’ve never seen anything like this apart from countries in conflict,” said Diana Moreka. She is with the MAMA Network that connects women and girls to care across 16 African countries.
The article is originally published at learn in english.