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Millions of Women Lost Access to Birth Control Due to Pandemic

FRIDAY, March 12, 2021 -- Millions of women worldwide lost access to birth control and other family planning services due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says.

The agency estimates that 12 million women in 115 low- to middle-income countries were "unable to access family planning services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic" and that the disruptions lasted an average of 3.6 months and resulted in about 1.4 million unplanned pregnancies in 2020, CBS News reported. The UNFPA said the "severe social and economic impacts of COVID-19 demand intensified action for women and girls."

"Once again, the fundamental story is that COVID has indeed wrought devastation on women's bodies and their lives," Natalia Kanem, M.D., UNFPA executive director, told CBS News. "Women who face this disruption could face a lifelong impact." Kanem added that creative solutions helped many women get contraceptives despite lockdowns and quarantines. In Uganda, a UNFPA-led project redirected ride-share drivers to help shuttle reproductive health items from pharmacies to patients.

But Thursday's report says that even the reduced numbers are still a "concern" and that "severe social and economic impacts of COVID-19 demand intensified action for women and girls."

CBS News Article

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