NEW DELHI: The nationwide COVID-19 lockdown and lack of access to family planning methods is set to reduce the use of contraceptions across the country by 15-23 per cent, as per an assessment by the country’s largest provider of clinical family planning services in the private sector.
This is likely to result in an additional 2.38 million unintended pregnancies, 679,864 childbirths, 1.45 million abortions, including 834,042 unsafe abortions and 1,743 maternal deaths, said the analysis by the Foundation of Reproductive Health Services India.
It also showed that in the most likely scenario, where clinical family planning services operate at full capacity by September 2020 and commercial sales of over the counter contraceptives are able to resume in a phased manner by the third week of May, it is estimated that 25.6 million couples would have not been able to access contraception services during the period of the lockdown and weeks leading up to complete normalcy.
In this scenario, there would be a loss of 6.9 lakh sterilization services, 9.7 lakh intra-uterine devices, 5.8 lakh doses of injectible contraceptives, 23.08 million cycles of oral contraceptive pills, 9.2 lakh emergency contraceptive pills and 405.96 million condoms, it has been estimated.
The assessment is based on sources such as Health Management Information System of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, social marketing statistics and retail audit data to arrive at the potential loss of sales and services in 2020 and the resultant impact on health indicators.
During the lockdown period, as per the Centre’s advisory, public facilities have suspended provision of sterilizations and IUCDs till further notice.
“The number of live births may be actually higher since access to abortion services have also been impacted during the lockdown. Many women who ended up with an unintended pregnancy may be forced carry their pregnancy to term,” said VS Chandrashekar, CEO, FRHSI.