Southeast Asia – Less Contraception Use In A Pandemic?

Athira Nortajuddin
15 March 2021

Just last year when over half of humanity was confined to their homes due to COVID-19 preventive measures, Karex, a Malaysian contraceptives manufacturer predicted a global condom shortage as the pandemic shuttered factories and disrupted supply chains.

This came as Malaysia, one of the world’s top rubber producers and a major source of condoms, imposed a nationwide lockdown – known locally as the Movement Control Order (MCO). The MCO was implemented sometime in mid-March 2020 for several months.


India – Why your nearby chemist doesn’t have abortion pills, and why he should stock them

A new study throws light on the availability
of prescription-based medical abortion drugs with chemists as a way to prevent
early abortion care costs among other benefits for women exercising their
choice of terminating pregnancy

Written by Jayashree Narayanan
Published: August 19, 2020

Marking 49 years of the inception of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP)
Act in 1971, a new study out on August 10, 2020 evaluated the availability of
Medical Abortion (MA) drugs in six Indian states to understand the awareness
levels and perceptions of the chemists stocking and selling MA pills.

Despite the passage of the MTP (Amendment) Bill in March 2020 that extended the
upper limit for permitting abortion to 24 weeks from 20 weeks, the
non-availability of MA drugs, which are approved for use up to nine weeks of
pregnancy in India, is seen to be “threatening” to women’s access to safe
abortion and proper reproductive healthcare.


India – Lockdown Effect: Spike In Unplanned Babies, Abortions

Lack of access to contraceptives and family planning services during the COVID-19 induced lockdowns led to an alarming rise in the pregnancy rate across the nation, which in turn led to numerous abortions.

Lola Nayar
Aug 11, 2020

A sudden rise in pregnancies, with over a million ending in abortions, is feared as COVID led lockdown eases and health services resume. The fear is not baseless as ahead of the lockdown, a study in six states revealed poor availability of family planning devices and safe abortion options. Long months of lockdown, leading to enforced homebound status and intimacy sans contraceptives has not helped, states VS Chandrashekar, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India (FRHS India) and Pratigya Campaign Advisory Group member.

“We are definitely expecting a baby boom in India with many not being able to access their choice of contraceptives. Across the country it is estimated that around 27 million couples were not able to access contraceptives,” says Chandrashekar.


India – Survey shows acute shortage of medical abortion pills in many states

The non-stocking of medical abortion drugs seems to be linked to overregulation by drug control authorities, said authorities.

Published: 10th August 2020
By Sumi Sukanya Dutta, Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A survey to assess the availability of the medical abortion pills in six states has shown its acute shortage in most of the states, triggering concerns of a sharp rise in unwanted pregnancies in the coming months.

The study by the Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India (FRSHI) involving 1500 chemists found that there was an overwhelming shortage of the drugs in five out of the six states surveyed with abysmal stocking in Madhya Pradesh (6.5%), Punjab (1.0%), Tamil Nadu (2.0%), Haryana (2.0%), and Delhi (34.0%).


COVID-19 has “devastating” effect on women and girls

Sophie Cousins, The Lancet
August 01, 2020

Natalia Kanem, executive director of the UN Population Fund, is among experts warning about disrupted health services and a surge in gender-based violence. Sophie Cousins reports.

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates, fears are increasing about the effect of the pandemic on women's and girls' sexual and reproductive health and their access to care. In response to COVID-19, in March, WHO issued interim guidance for maintaining essential services during an outbreak, which included advice to prioritise services related to reproductive health and make efforts to avert maternal and child mortality and morbidity.


India – Covid-19 exacerbates the risk of unsafe abortions | Opinion

The lack of safe abortion facilities will have an impact on both health and family planning long after the coronavirus crisis is overcome, both in terms of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Planning for this now is the only option

Jul 26, 2020
Lalita Panicker, Hindustan Times

The coronavirus pandemic has hit India’s health systems. As many services get affected, a key area of concern has been reproductive health. This includes safe abortions. It is vital for women’s health that these take place in a proper medical facility under the care of qualified professionals. With many public health facilities having been taken over for Covid-19, and several private health facilities being shut down as a result of a shortage of staff and the lack of supply chains for medicines, there is a real danger of women having to resort to back alley methods for abortion. The fact that contraception is not easily available and that they are unable to travel to a medical facility even if it is within reach adds to the problem.


Coronavirus baby boom or bust? How the pandemic is affecting birthrates worldwide.

By Miriam Berger
July 15, 2020

It has been five months — a bit more than half the length of an average pregnancy — since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.

With millions of people cut off from reproductive health care and stuck at home, some experts predicted that the crisis would create the conditions for a baby boom, at least in some countries. Other analysts predicted a baby bust, driven by economic and social instability.


India – ‘Women always take the brunt’: India sees surge in unsafe abortion

Low priority for reproductive health during lockdown leaves millions unable to access contraception or safe terminations

Neha Thirani Bagri in Mumbai
Published on Mon 13 Jul 2020

Sadhna Gupta* discovered she was pregnant just after India imposed a crippling lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The 21-year-old from the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar didn’t want to be pregnant. With no public transport available, clinics closed and Bhubaneswar at a standstill, she bought an abortion pill without consulting a doctor. While what she did was not unusual, Indian law requires a prescription for the pills from a licensed medical professional.


Why COVID-19 Must Not Constrain Access to Abortion in India

Why COVID-19 Must Not Constrain Access to Abortion in India
During the pandemic, India must ensure that access to critical women’s health facilities remain unimpeded.

By Tarini Mehta
June 24, 2020

Some things cannot be stopped and started as we please, not even if a highly contagious virus demands it. A case in point is development through the different stages of pregnancy. The Indian government did declare safe abortion an essential health service on April 14, when the country was still under a COVID-19 lockdown. It brought some relief to a few women who urgently required those facilities. But things are not that simple.

According to a report by the IPAS Development Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to manage unwanted pregnancies in India, 73 percent of abortions that take place in India annually are done via medical abortion (MA) drugs that are accessed outside of facilities. Private health facilities take care of 16 percent of cases, while public health facilities cover another 6 percent. The remaining 5 percent are conducted through traditional methods that are considered unsafe. These include, but are not limited to, the usage of sticks, roots, and herbal medicines.


Why India is likely to lose its battle to population control as the health department focuses on COVID-19?

Why India is likely to lose its battle to population control as the health department focuses on COVID-19?
In the worst-case scenario, there can be more than 2.9 million additional population which could be due to unintended pregnancies

Thursday, May 14, 2020
By Jescilia Karayamparambil

The already stressed healthcare segment in India is presently concentrating on saving the lives of COVID-19 patients. But the healthcare professionals like doctors and other healthcare workers, are expected to feel the pinch further when there are more abortion cases and other health issues among women -- mainly due to unwanted pregnancies, says VS Chandrashekar, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India (FRHS). This unwanted pregnancy is expected to have large economic pressure among families who were not ready for a child.

Speaking to The Free Press Journal, Chandrashekar, said, "We prepared a report taking into consideration three scenarios -- best case, likely case and worst scenarios."