Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, India’s healthcare systems are heavily burdened to provide care to patients suffering from coronavirus, testing populations for the virus and other allied services. Many facilities have been turned into dedicated COVID 19 centres to curb the spread of the virus; it means fewer facilities for other service delivery efforts.
During the lockdown, NGOs which provide contraception and safe abortion services in the public sector to strengthen and further government’s family planning program and mandate, like DKT Janani, Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India (FRHSI), and ParivarSeva Sanstha (PSS) had to completely stop their outreach operations following the guidelines issued by the Government.
At the start of the lockdown over 100 clinics operated by these NGOs had also shut down. However, responding to the needs of clients especially for time-sensitive and essential sexual and reproductive health services, 70 clinics spread across 63 cities and towns across 15 states are now delivering safe abortion and post-abortion family planning services. Service delivery guidelines and protocols have been put in place to ensure the safety of clients and staff to prevent transmission of Covid 19. This includes screening of clients coming in for service, maintaining social distancing and use of additional PPE’s while providing services. To support clients at a time when mobility has been greatly restricted, NGOs have sent ambulances to transport clients to the clinics and back home.
Services at a glance:
DKT/Janani Surya Clinics: Currently 22 clinics across the states of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, and Jharkhand are operational under DKT/Janani offering safe abortion (SA) services and Post-abortion Family Planning (PAFP) services.
Family Planning Association of India: Currently operating 35 clinics of which 27 clinics are offering both SA and PAFP. The remaining are offering Family Planning (FP) services only. These clinics are spread across 13 states and 1 Union Territory.
Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India: Currently providing time-sensitive safe abortion and family planning services in 3 clinics across Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Parivar Seva Sanstha: Currently 10 clinics are operating in the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, and are delivering SA and PAFP as well as other sexual and reproductive health services.
At a time when the nation is in state of lockdown where the movement of people and services is near to none, access to contraception and reproductive healthcare can be severely impaired. When the pandemic broke, regrettably, NGOs had to suspend service delivery, but now with clinics opened across the length and breadth of the country, many women and girls would be able to access safe abortion services and post-abortion care and family planning. The lockdown has had a disproportionately high impact on women and these organisations are working to iron out the difficulties by working closely with governments both at local and central levels to mitigate the crisis. We are hopeful that soon, women would be able to avail sexual and reproductive health services as before.
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