Even without a pandemic, women in Uganda face barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. COVID-19 has placed an extra strain on this issue; while many services have shut down to maintain physical distancing and avoid further infections, women still very much need SRH products and services. Life goes on and sexual interactions continue, even amid the challenges COVID presents.
On May 17, three leaders in the Ugandan reproductive health space—PSI Uganda’s Dr. Dorothy Balaba, Alain Sibenaler of UNFPA, and Jackson Chekweko of Reproductive Health Uganda—joined Next Media Uganda for a televised e-conference to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on SRH access in Uganda.
Dr. Balaba discussed several lessons PSI Uganda has learned about SRH access during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Self-care: People naturally want to take care of themselves, and this is an opportunity we should harness to continue developing self-care interventions such as self-injectable contraceptives and home pregnancy tests.
- Digital interventions: digital technology has become more crucial than ever when physical connection is difficult or impossible. PSI Uganda has partnered with several technology companies, including Airtel, to set up a number that Ugandans can call to access information about COVID-19 as well as family planning. PSI Uganda has also set up digital product locators to help clients efficiently find health products and services they need, thus limiting the time they need to be away from home.
- Market innovations: innovative delivery methods that are already part of the market can be adapted and scaled up to ensure commodities are delivered safely into clients’ hands. For instance, PSI Uganda has been working with boda boda drivers (which are allowed to continue operating under the current lockdown restrictions) to deliver contraceptives to pharmacies, health retailers and even directly to the women who need them.
To watch the full conversation about SRH access in Uganda during COVID-19, check out the recording below.