In the face of the stay at home or lockdown order to curtail the spread of the raging Coronavirus, the Non-governmental organizations, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI II) and Development Communications (DevComs) Network have warned Nigerians not to abuse the order to perpetuate high rate conception and unplanned pregnancy.
The organizations working around childbirth spacing warned that at the crucial time of Coronavirus, Nigerians should keep safe sex and use preventive measures if at all they must meet with their partners during the stay at home order to avoid unplanned pregnancy.
A Family Planning Expert, Ajani Bless-me Oluwatobi in a statement on behalf of the organizations and made available to newsmen said going by the past experience of Ebola, outbreaks such as Coronavirus increases the risk of the vulnerable population – Internally Displaced Persons, women and girls – to teenage pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Rape, gender-based violence and Domestic violence.
Oluwatobi said, “Nigerians should be concerned about the high rate of conception and unplanned pregnancy at this time of lockdown against the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in the country. Though it might seem that Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) should be the least of our worries during this COVID 19 outbreak, however learning from the Ebola experience, outbreaks such as this increases the risk of the vulnerable population – internally displaced persons, women, and girls – to teenage pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Rape, gender-based violence and Domestic violence.
“The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the global economy and basically disrupting the world order, and as the days go by and the weeks unfold, we have continually seen how the unexpected situation affects every aspect of our lives, with many issues taken for granted becoming major dynamics of the life of individuals and communities.
“I am sure the question is who thinks about sexual activities when people are getting sick and some are dying from COVID-19.
“This is a reminder to us that social distancing or the stay at the home policy is not a license to perpetuate gender-based violence, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence and a bad habit of having sex without a proper plan to prevent unplanned pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections.
“The social distancing policy, which is the only reasonable thing to do at this time, involved closing down schools, markets, etc., hence, which makes a lot of people including young people very idle. Consequently, adolescent girls and vulnerable women end up in various compromising situations. For instance, the young girl that finds her school as a safe space is back in the house with that abusive uncle, neighbour or stepfather; that woman who intentionally spends most of her time selling in the market to avoid engaging in sexual activities with her husband, especially for fear of pregnancy, is now stuck with him at home, while young people in relationships are more likely to engage in consensual sexual activities this period,
We should be concerned about the high rate of conception and in turn unplanned pregnancies at this period.
“And so, it is crucial that we all take responsibility for our sexual needs during this time. Married/cohabiting couples who are not on a long-acting contraceptive/family planning method should remember to stock up on condoms. Young people should endeavour to abstain at this time and if you can’t, get handy condoms and emergency contraceptives. The reality is, this is not a good time to have unplanned pregnancies because the pressure of the pandemic on the health system will affect/disrupt routine Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services such as family planning, ante-natal services, post-abortion care services, immunization services, etc.
“In addition, government agencies and parastatals should reiterate to the public the implications of perpetrating sexual, domestic and gender-based violence at this time. In addition, they should ensure the availability of non-prescriptive SRH commodities such as condoms, Emergency Contraceptives Pills (ECPs) and post-exposure prophylaxis at pharmacies across the country. So these services can easily be accessible to people in their neighbourhood hence mitigating the possibilities of increased SRH issues after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Finally, as young people, we should endeavour to make good use of this period by engaging in productive self-development activities such as reading a book, trying out new hobbies, digital skills or even documenting your Social Distancing experience. You will be amazed at how your writing skills would have improved by the end of this period. Also, remember to pick up SRH products at any closed Pharmacy or Primary Health Center close to you,” Oluwatobi however said.