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UNFPA support to Moroto district for continuity of Integrated Sexual Reproductive Health during the COVID-19 lockdown

On 18th May 2020, UNFPA handed over 51 hand sanitizers, 18 boxes of non-sterile disposable gloves, four boxes of N95 face masks, 14,400 male condoms as well as female condoms and Sayana Press, a self-injectable contraceptive for women to Mr Onyang Charles Omuudu, the Acting District Health Officer (DHO) in Moroto District, as part of UNFPA support to district COVID-19 response to ensure continued delivery of integrated sexual reproductive health and rights services.

The District Health Officer appreciated UNFPA support, adding that these supplies provided timely support to protect health workers and to allay the anxiety of potential covid-19 exposure: “we have inadequate quantities of infection prevention commodities to protect our health workers especially those working close to the porous border points.”

Moroto district has continued to hold weekly District Task Force meetings during which stakeholders discuss COVID-19 response strategies and mobilize resources for preparedness and response.  The District Task Force has agreed to undertake the door-to-door provision of contraceptive services using the support from UNFPA, and the other reproductive health commodities will be distributed to high volume facilities of Kalemungole HC II, Kosiroi HC III, Nakiloro HC II, Rupa HC II, and Nadunget HC III.

Mr Onyang further noted that Out-Patients attendance at static facility-level had dropped during since March 2020 owing partly to the covid-19 prevention and response guidelines like national curfew and lockdown: “Fewer patients are coming to health facilities, for fear of being beaten by security operatives and the long distances to the healthcentres with the restricted public transport.”  Other notable challenges include reports of mothers resorting to Traditional Birth Attendants as compared to delivering at health facilities, increasing reports of malaria, as well as loss to follow up of TB and HIV patients in the district.

The district leadership has issued movement permits to development partners enabling them to travel throughout the district to deliver essential services. Through this, UNFPA is working with the district leadership, civil society and local cultural and religious leaders to ensure continuity of maternal health services, contraceptive services, and response to gender-based violence with support from the Government of United Kingdom. This support will significantly contribute to sustained healthcare as it ensures a balanced focus on the covid-19 response as well as on the continuity of sexual and reproductive health services. In Moroto and all of Karamoja, UNFPA is supporting districts to undertake health worker training on covid-19 guidelines, to offer psychosocial support especially as a result of the covid-19 lockdown, to offer ambulance referral services, to transport health workers to service delivery sites, and to strengthen coordination towards ending preventable maternal deaths, ending gender-based violence and ending the unmet need for birth planning.