EHS-COVID (289) Reproductive health (1) UNFPA: Impact of COVID-19 on Family Planning, March 2021

13 May, 2021

(with thanks to Sanchika Gupta, reproductive health volunteer of WHO/HIFA working group on Maintaining essential health services during COVID)

Extracts below. Full text here:

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging evidence points to smaller and shorter disruptions in family planning services than initially projected, largely concentrated in April and May 2020. This speaks to the resilience of health

systems that continued to provide services, the impact of actions by partners to support access to reproductive health supplies and services and, in some contexts, the more limited spread of COVID-19 than some models initially forecast. However, disruptions remain a concern, and limited data and some inconsistencies across countries

require ongoing monitoring and analysis. The severe social and economic impacts of COVID-19 demand intensified action for women and girls.

UNFPA estimates the pandemic disrupted contraceptive use for about 12 million women with a consequence of nearly 1.4 million unintended pregnancies during 2020 across 115 low- and middle-income countries...

UNFPA was able to procure and deliver contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies largely to plan despite supply chain constraints and rising costs. A coordinated COVID-19 response included fulfilling orders placed early

in the year, flexibility at country level, redistribution of supplies, procurement of emergency reproductive health kits and personal protective equipment for health providers, and intensified quarterly monitoring. Still, many countries

continue to face serious obstacles to providing these life-saving commodities. UNFPA continues to work with governments and partners to prioritize the needs of women and girls of reproductive age and to respond urgently during this challenging public health emergency.


This assessment is reassuring, although it represents a global view. The picture at national and local levels may be less optimistic, perhaps especially with the upsurge in COVID-19 we are now seeing in South Asia and South America. We would be keen to hear the experience of FP professionals working on the ground. Email:

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,