COVID-19 Pandemic changed the world like never before. The pandemic caused catastrophic health-related damages; millions got infected, many admitted in hospitals and woefully, thousands died of the virus. However, the negative impacts of the Covid19 pandemic don’t end with the virus itself. All over the world, public health attention has been shifted to fighting the pandemic. The efforts in other health-related domains such as reproductive health, vaccination, and non-communication diseases may be wrongly deemed unessential.
It is expected that approximately 13.6 million people will miss life-saving vaccines due to the Covid19 pandemic. This is according to the recent report published by GAVI. There is no doubt that this pandemic causes worrying impacts on sexual and reproductive health. Governments often wrongly consider sexual and reproductive health to be unessential during such time. This may lead to the reduction of the supply chain, lack of funding, and therefore limited services and information to the community.
In addition, sexual and reproductive health is being affected by measures and responses taken by societies to contain this virus. Most governments have encouraged their citizens to stay home and others already established curfews. While this is a very great effort in containing the virus, several research papers show an increase in domestic violence. This is especially for individuals living in an abusive relationship. Victims are isolated with their abusers with few options of where to go.
Effects of pandemics on sexual and reproductive health have been observed in previous pandemics. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa contributed to 3600 maternal deaths in Sierra Leone. Other studies found that Ebola outbreaks resulted in sharp declines in contraceptive use and family planning visits in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. There is no doubt that similar consequences will result if appropriate measures are not taken.
While some may label sexual and reproductive health unessential during this time, Tantine committed to increasing its efforts in ensuring that everyone with the internet has accessed to reliable information. Now that everyone is encouraged to stay home, accessing information online has never been so important. This is even observed in our analytics where the number of people visiting our platforms has been increasing.
Sexual and reproductive health services and information are not a luxury. Those services are important and lifesaving. Our organization understands that today is the right time to keep up our efforts of providing access to SRH information. To ensure the continuity of our important work during #COVID-19, here is how we are adapting our work to the situation:
- Telephone-based Survey and FGDs: in our project Tantine Playing Cards, we are conducting surveys and focus group discussions using telephone. Before we launch our playing cards in refugee camps, we first want to assess the availability of SRH information and the quality of information. The same assessment was done for youth and adolescents in the Rwandan community.
- Using E-Commerce for Cards distribution: before, the main distribution channel for Tantine Playing Cards was stores and supermarkets across the country. In an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19, we are working on creating an online store for Tantine Playing Cards.
- Testing Tantine App online: we are wrapping up the testing of Tantine App & Web version 2.0. The testing was done on one hundred people across the nation completely online.
Apart from those strategies, Tantine continues to provide access to reliable SRH information. In addition to asking a question in Tantine Forums, On Facebook and Instagram, we have temporarily set a Whatsapp number where people can ask SRH related questions.
As we continue to respect measures set by the Government to fight Covid19, we want to extend our sincere thanks to the partners who continue to help us save lives with innovations.
For more information, reach out to Ms. ISHIMWE Alliance, firstname.lastname@example.org.