New Delhi: As the country remains caught in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, access to contraceptives is taking a massive hit, which is pushing the gains made in population stabilisation further down south.
The inability of millions of men and women in the country to access contraceptives during the lockdown period is slated to have an adverse impact on reproductive health indicators, maternal and infant mortality. V.S. Chandrashekar, Chief Executive Officer at the Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India (FRHS), said,
"Live births may actually be higher since access to abortion is impacted during the lockdown. Women with unintended pregnancy may be forced to carry their pregnancy to term, since they may not have access to abortion care."
In 2019, as per the Health Management Information System (HMIS), 3.5 million sterilisations, 5.7 million IUCDs, 1.8 million injectable contraceptive services were provided by the public sector. In addition to this, 41 million cycles of oral contraceptive pills, 2.5 million emergency contraceptive pills and 322 million condoms were made available in the country.
In line with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's advisory, public facilities have suspended provisions of sterilisations and IUCDs (intra-uterine contraceptive devices) till further notice. This, combined with restrictions on movement, has made access to over the counter contraceptives like condoms, oral contraceptive pills and emergency contraceptive pills difficult.
It has also deprived millions of women of their choice of contraception. The FRHS used data of clinical Family Planning (FP) services and sales of over the counter contraceptives in 2018 and 2019 to release a policy brief to estimate the impact of the lockdown on family planning