When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Eswatini saw a close to 50% drop in women accessing family planning services. When women lose the ability to plan their families, unintended pregnancies occur. Unintended pregnancies can disrupt a woman’s education, place financial burden on her and her family, and expose her to the risk of pregnancy complications.
Nolwazi was one of the women in Eswatini who was at risk of losing access to her contraception when COVID-19 lockdowns began. Nolwazi is a youth empowerment advocate mentoring young girls in her community, and a mother to one. Family planning is critical to Nolwazi realizing her dream of being a teacher. She plans to avoid pregnancy so she can complete her studies and receive a primary teacher’s diploma.
Thanks to you, UNFPA has been there for women like Nolwazi throughout the pandemic. In Eswatini a UNFPA supported SMS text message service sends women monthly reminders to refill their birth control. During lockdown in Eswatini, these reminders were vital to maintaining every woman’s access to family planning services.
Nolwazi said “With the lockdown movement restrictions, it’s easy to forget the date to return to the health facility. These messages beyond encouraging us to go for the service, also act as a reminder.”
For UNFPA’s acting head of office in Eswatini, Margaret Thwala-Tembe, “ensuring that women continue accessing these services is one way we can mitigate COVID-19’s impact on the health of vulnerable groups like women and girls.” For $48 you can provide 40 women like Nolwazi with contraceptives to allow them to plan if and when to get pregnant.
Your support is critical to avoiding the pandemic rolling back progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide. Please donate today!
In the Dominican Republic, while Lucía García’s husband is away planting peanuts, she feeds the children in their simple, clay-floored house. At 19 years old, she is already pregnant with her third child. The family struggles to get by on an income of less than three dollars per day.
Lucía García’s experience is not unique, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened poverty and disrupted health services in the Dominican Republic. However, with your support, UNFPA is there, and despite these challenges, Ms. García says she feels more prepared for childbirth, and better supported, than she did before.
Your gift helped UNFPA, in partnership with local organizations, launch the ‘Champion Mothers’ program during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Dominican Republic. Pregnant women can now use free motorcycle ambulances to make the journey to a maternal health clinic - removing barriers to women accessing lifesaving care. “This project seeks to prevent and reduce maternal mortality” explained Dulce, a reproductive health officer with UNFPA.
In addition to providing a fleet of six motorcycle ambulances, the Champion Mothers program has also trained more than 100 health personnel and technicians, and it has equipped 10 primary care centers with new medical equipment.
A gift of $20 equips a midwife with the supplies needed to help a woman give birth safely, no matter the circumstances.
We know that women and girls have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, through our support of programs like Champion Mothers, we can re-build health care systems and ensure no pregnant woman, young girl or newborn is left without the care they need.
Zilkee, a midwife in the remote Bandarban District of Bangladesh, knows all too well the dangers of leaving women without access to maternal health support.
For pregnant women in Bandarban, there are great barriers to receiving lifesaving reproductive health care. Distance, lack of affordable transportation, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, a fear of seeking treatment, all stand in the way of expectant mothers receiving care. In June 2021, UNFPA deployed Zilkee and many other midwives to remote regions, to ensure no women was left without support during childbirth.
Just one month after Zilkee arrived, one of her patients went in to labor. The women’s only option was to travel for two hours in a worn-out fishing boat, through monsoon rain, to reach her nearest clinic. However, her labor had progressed so much that by the time she reached the clinic the only option was for her to give birth in the boat.
Thanks to you, Zilkee was there. She rushed to the boat with her equipment, ensuring the mother could deliver her baby girl safely.
“I am so happy that I was able to save both a life of a mother and a baby girl today. If I would not have come to the river, the situation could have been really serious. I have never been as proud to call myself a midwife!” Zilkee stated after the delivery.
$100 provides five midwives, just like Zilkee with the equipment needed to ensure women everywhere can give birth safely, no matter what.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing strains on maternal care provisions worldwide. Hospitals are overwhelmed, lockdowns are disrupting routine pre and post-natal treatment meetings, and disruptions to family planning supplies are leaving women without the ability to plan if, and when they get pregnant.
UNFPA is working tirelessly to overcome these challenges. Investments in telehealth services are connecting remote regions like Bandarban to expert care providers, allowing midwives to guide women in through their pregnancies from afar. However, there continues to be a shortage of midwives around the world.
$25 provides five expectant mothers with emergency birthing kits, which include all the supplies needed for a woman to give birth, even when she can’t access a clinic.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to overwhelm health systems and place barriers between women and care providers, your support is essential. With you, UNFPA can be there for midwives like Zilkee, for new mothers, and for their babies, no matter what.
Before the war, Fatima's life was very different. She had a degree in clinical laboratory science, was happily married to her husband, and was raising three kids.
But, after her husband died in a bomb attack, Fatima took her children and fled for a displacement camp in the countryside. Fatima remembers, "I had no one to back me up or support me to alleviate my pain and grief."
$10 provides two pregnant women with emergency birth kits. The kit contains everything needed to ensure that women can safely give birth, even if they're on the move like Fatima was.
Sadly, once Fatima and her family arrived at the displacement camp, she became sick with COVID-19. She was quarantined in a local hospital, but the isolation was crushing. Fatima said, “I felt so lonely and dark... I was struggling to save my life to go back to my children."
Thinking of her children gave Fatima the strength to recover. Back in the displacement camp, she was able to receive sexual and reproductive health care from UNFPA and her son was treated for his own sickness.
$48 provides 40 women, including women in displacement camps like Fatima, with injectable contraception, so they can decide if and when to have children.
UNFPA is supporting 105 health facilities in Yemen, just like the one Fatima received care from. The work is incredibly challenging and the conflict has left UNFPA as the only provider of sexual and reproductive health care in the country. Fatima says that even though the pandemic and the war have proven that she is capable of more than she could ever imagine, she still dreams of moving back home with her children. "I hope, one day, the pandemic and war will perish from my country.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, access to family planning has been widely disrupted by travel restrictions, interrupted supply chains, stock-outs and overwhelmed health facilities. An estimated 12 million women have experienced disruptions in their family planning services, leading to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies. These unintended pregnancies have put a great strain on families which were already struggling under pandemic-related financial burdens. The consequences of rising unintended pregnancy are not simply economic – they are also put the lives of women and their babies at risk.
Your support is essential in ensuring women have access to family planning support services, no matter what.
Nepali mother of five, Maya, is one of the 12 million women whose reproductive healthcare has been interrupted by the pandemic. She had been relying on injectable contraceptives from her nearby health center, but when she visited for a shot in June, there were none in stock. Maya was left without access to contraceptives for several months. “I was constantly worried about having an unwanted pregnancy,” she told UNFPA. Not long after missing her shot, she became pregnant. Maya’s newest child is well loved and healthy, but she acknowledges that their circumstances are now more precarious than before. "With a meagre income, raising our fifth child is going to be a tough battle for me and my husband," she explained.
One year into the pandemic, the strain it has put on already limited health care facilities continues to pose a significant threat to women’s reproductive health. With your help, we can ensure that women everywhere have reliable access to birth control and family planning services. Just $48 can provide 40 women with injectable contraceptives, so women like Maya have the ability to choose whether and when to have children. Please donate today!
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