By JAMES MUYANWA
DUE to Coronavirus (COVID-19) there is a general decline in access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning (SRH/FP) services with a lot of unmet women’s contraceptive needs in Zambia, leading to unwanted pregnancies.
As a result, some stakeholders have called for availability of long-term contraceptives in clinics to avoid users frequenting health facilities.
A survey conducted by TIMES OF ZAMBIA in Lusaka, Eastern and Copperbelt Provinces shows that some women have not been accessing SRH/FP services due to COVID-19–related factors.
For instance, some women found at Nachitete Mini- Hospital in Chongwe said that they could not regularly visit the health facility to access the services because they were scared of COVID-19.
Mary Mboyonga, a mother of three, said she and her friends were scared of catching the virus from the health facility and did not want to undergo any COVID-19 test.
Asked why Ms Mboyonga said: “We do not want to be quarantined!” Her friends, Sidney Mupeso and Elfrada Kandandi expressed similar sentiments.
In Ndola, MUSONDA MANGILASHI reports that some people are calling for availability of long-term contraception to avoid frequenting health facilities. Muchinga Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) acting coordinator
Losaria Nyirenda said there was need for Government to ensure that long-term contraceptives were made available in health institutions.
Ms Nyirenda said the organisation had been sensitising communities to access the contraceptives in clinics and that the response was overwhelming, but called on the Government to ensure that the long term plan was available for all.
Senior Chief Chiwala of the Lamba people in Masaiti who recently said his area had posted an increase in teen pregnancies and early marriages due to COVID-19 has intensified dissemination of information on contraceptives.
Chief Chiwala said sensitisation would help women access family planning services at health centres without fear of catching COVID-19.
“You see most women had a negative attitude to go to clinics for contraceptives because they feel those are epicenters for COVID-19 …,” he said.
A-19 year old mother of Chingola expressed disappointment that most Government clinics do not have adequate long-term contraceptives such as implants and that they were made to buy from private health facilities.
The young woman who declined to be named, said accessing the long-term family planning was a challenge and that most available pills were for daily. In Kitwe, ESTHER NG’ANDU reports that some women have unable to
access family planning services because resources have been redirected away from SRH/FP services to Covid-19-related emergencies.
Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA), a nongovernmental organisation based in Chingola says COVID-19 threatened girls and women in sexual reproductive health.
RWA board member Bennette Malamba said there was need to strengthen information and services that protected and promoted girls and young women’s sexual reproductive health and rights.
Ms Malamba said due to rapid response to Covid-19-related responses, it was difficult for girls and women to get access to contraceptives and other essential services.
MedRAP Zambia national coordinator Liyoka Liyoka said the organisation was promoting a policy change to ensure that family planning methods were not left out in the supply chain of medical services.
He said the rise in teenage pregnancies amid the pandemic was due to a shortfall in supply of SRH/FP services.
In Chipata, JULIUS PHIRI reports that Chisomo Community Programme has received reports from its change-agents that some women have not been receiving SRH/FP services because some facilities do not stock their
Programmes manager Annie Chiseni said in Chipata yesterday that as an alternative condoms were being preferred, while waiting for family planning of their choice whenever they were available at the facility.
The National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) in Eastern Province says that most people have been apprehensive about going to the health facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic ‘for fear of being quarantined’.
Coordination advisor Emmanuel Chama said some women and girls feared visiting the health facilities to access SRH services.
Mr Chama noted that female condoms were always on demand by girls and women whenever they were available.
“There were only three female boxes and they finished yesterday, but all the remaining ones are for males,” he said.
Charity Mbao of Kapata township said getting hold of female condoms had become difficult during the COVID19.
She said most of the time, the female condoms have been unavailable compared to male condoms.