EHS-COVID (433) Reproductive health (25) PAHO: COVID-19 is inflicting “devastating” impacts on women

15 July, 2021

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26 May 2021

PAHO Director calls for counteracting potential rollback of gains in women’s access to family planning and in reducing maternal mortality.

Washington, D.C., May 26, 2021 (PAHO) –Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne warned that continued 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,” Dr. Etienne said during her weekly media briefing.

Women have been particularly impacted by interruptions of reproductive and maternal health services, she said. “According to UN 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.”

Pregnancy and newborn care also have been interrupted in nearly half of countries in the Americas, she said. 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.

“If this continues, the pandemic is expected to obliterate more than 20 years of progress in expanding women’s access to family planning and tackling maternal deaths in the region,” Dr. Etienne said. “Nearly all maternal deaths are preventable and even getting back to pre-pandemic levels of maternal mortality, which were already high, could take more than a decade.”...


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,