New UNFPA data reveals that nearly 12 million women lost access to contraception due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, leading to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies

COVID IMPACTS: Access to Contraception

New UNFPA data reveals that nearly 12 million women lost access to contraception due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, leading to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies

New York, 11 March 2021 – UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, released new data today indicating that nearly 12 million women in 115 countries lost access to family planning services, leading to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies resulting from the disruptions caused by COVID-19 over the past year.

“Pregnancies don’t stop for pandemics, or any crisis. We must ensure that women and girls have uninterrupted access to life-saving contraceptives and maternal health medicines,” says UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem. “The devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on the lives of millions of women and girls in the past year underscores just how vital it is to ensure the continuity of reproductive health services.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the fastest-moving global public health crisis in a century, causing a strain never before seen on global health systems, many of which were forced to divert resources away from their reproductive health services. Women also lost access to health services due to mobility restrictions or fear of traveling to health facilities. The data, by UNFPA and Avenir health, estimates the net impact of these service delivery disruptions.

In the 115 low-and-middle-income countries studied, women faced an average disruption in their family planning services of 3.6 months over the past year, suggesting that many health systems were resilient enough to eventually adapt and continue to provide services. The worst disruptions were largely concentrated in April and May…