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COVID-19 and sexual and reproductive health and rights

Associate Professor Linda Bennett discusses the impact of COVID-19, and responses to it, on sexual and reproductive rights and health in Indonesia.

Sexual and reproductive health services are an essential area of health care the world over, and the interruption of these services during times of crises has far reaching impacts. In this mini lecture, Associate Professor Linda Bennett explores exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic, and government and community responses to it, have disrupted people’s access to essential sexual and reproductive health care in Indonesia.

The case study describes how the reduction in available services and health care workers has led to the interruption of specific types of care including access to: long acting contraceptives, pre and postnatal care, safe abortion, STI and HIV testing, cervical and breast cancer screening, HPV vaccination, and sexual and reproductive health education and counselling. Changes to the health seeking behaviour of Indonesians, which have been shaped by the pandemic and particularly the economic effects of the pandemic, are also explained as barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health care. Finally, this mini lecture describes and predicts the broader health impacts resulting from reduced access to sexual and reproductive health care for Indonesians during the COVID-19 pandemic, which include significant increases in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortion, and maternal and newborn mortality. The case study provides a simple analytical framework for thinking about how supply and demand side factors related to health care can combine to constrain access to essential services during pandemics. This framework is easily adaptable for learners interested in analysing the impact of COVID-19 on sexual and reproductive health in their own country contexts.

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COVID-19: Global Health Perspectives

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