Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2021. 9:58 am CST.
By Zoila Palma: The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warns that disruption of women’s health services due to COVID-19 could “obliterate” more than 20 years of progress in reducing maternal mortality and increasing access to family planning in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“I want to spotlight the devastating health, social and economic impacts that this virus has had on women,” Director Carissa Etienne said.
The United Nations estimates up to 20 million women in the Americas will have their birth control disrupted during the pandemic, either because services are unavailable or because women will no longer have the means to pay for contraception.
In addition, pregnancy and newborn care also have been interrupted.
At the same time, pregnant women are more vulnerable to respiratory infections such as COVID-19. If they get sick, they tend to develop more serious symptoms that require intubation, which can put both the mother and baby at risk, PAHO noted.
The maternal mortality rate in Latin America and the Caribbean declined from 96 to 74 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births between 2000 and 2017, an overall reduction of 23.1%.
Dr. Etienne urged countries to act now and start by ensuring that women and girls can access the health services they need – like sexual and reproductive health services, and pregnancy and newborn-related care – during the COVID response.
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