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UNFPA supports development of guidelines on prevention of gender based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights

As Uganda grapples with the health and socio-economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNFPA is putting its technical expertise to work, supporting the government and partners to fight the pandemic.

For UNFPA, access to sexual and reproductive health and rights is critical in supporting Uganda to achieve its development targets as stipulated in the National Development Plan.  This is being done through the framework of the transformative goals: Ending unmet need for family planning, ending gender-based violence including harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage, and ending all preventable maternal deaths.

However, in the wake of the COVID19, evidence shows that the pandemic could critically undermine progress made towards achieving these goals and the country’s development aspirations.

In Uganda, like in many parts of the world, , as a result of the lock down and movement restrictions, there have been reports of increasing cases of maternal deaths because mothers cannot access medical care. There is a likelihood of spikes in the rates of unintended pregnancies due to disruptions in family planning use and access to contraceptives. There have also been reports of increasing incidences of gender based violence (GBV) especially domestic violence affecting mostly women and girls. 

As a way to support the government address these concerns, UNFPA has worked with the COVID-19 Essential Services Committee of the Ministry of Health, to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure continuity of Gender Based Violence/Sexual and Reproductive Health /HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These SOPs will enable the Ministry of Health to prioritize integrated GBV/SRH/HIV services as part of the essential service package in COVID-19 case management. The SOPS will also provide a framework to enable various stakeholders to raise awareness on how to report and seek help in case of GBV incidents. 

 

Compiled by Edith Akiror