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Amid COVID-19, UNFPA realises increase in utilisation of sexual and reproductive health services in humanitarian settings

For many, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic presented far reaching consequences on the way of life including access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. In humanitarian settings, the vulnerability is even higher, straining the public health system and having a massive toll on women and girls.

A rapid assessment conducted by UNFPA Uganda on barriers preventing pregnant and lactating women from seeking maternal health, family planning and gender based violence services at health facilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed service utilization in the refugee hosting districts has been affected by pandemic and related restrictions.

However, UNFPA continues to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services and supplies including family planning, safe delivery services, emergency obstetric care, antenatal care services, post-natal care services and clinical management of rape services.  In the month of June, a total of 2,382 pregnant women  were referred  for emergency obstetric care through strengthened ambulance system compared to 1,517 in April according to the UNFPA Uganda June 2020 humanitarian situation report.

UNFPA Uganda also continues to contribute to the national COVID-19 response plan to cope with the pandemic by distributing Personal Protective Equipment for health workers and supporting health systems where needed. Due to availability of Personal Protective Equipment among health workers, a total of 8,404 births were attended by skilled health personnel in June compared to 5,997 in April.

Accurate information is also provided to women of reproductive age and pregnant women on infection precautions, potential risks and how to seek timely medical care. This has seen an increase in pregnant mothers utilising antenatal care in the month of June (39,674) compared to 26,188 in April.  

According to UNHCR, as of June 2020, Uganda hosted 1,424,040 refugees and asylum seekers mainly from South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). UNFPA also continues to support humanitarian emergencies caused by natural disasters including outbreaks of cholera, floods and landslides.

Read full humanitarian situation report summary here:


Compiled by Evelyn Matsamura Kiapi