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COVID-19 pandemic

UNFPA's response

The COVID-19 pandemic is straining public health systems, triggering unprecedented measures by governments around the world, including movement restrictions and shelter-in-place orders. Women are disproportionally represented in the health and social services sectors, increasing their risk of exposure to the disease. Stress, limited mobility and livelihood disruptions also increase women’s and girls’ vulnerability to gender-based violence and exploitation. And if health systems redirect resources away from sexual and reproductive health services, women’s access to family planning, antenatal care and other critical services could suffer.

UNFPA is on the ground, distributing personal protective equipment for health workers and supporting health systems where needed. UNFPA is also supporting efforts to learn more about the virus and its impact to better serve the most vulnerable. “While fear and uncertainty are natural responses to the coronavirus, we must be guided by facts and solid information,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA’s Executive Director. “We must stand together in solidarity, fight stigma and discrimination, and ensure that people get the information and services they need.”

UNFPA has outlined its response in a number of guidance documents available on UNFPA's global site.

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Resources & technical briefs

Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently, and pandemics make existing inequalities for women and girls and discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty, worse. This needs to be considered, given the different impacts surrounding detection and access to treatment for women and men.

Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers.

Additional information and technical guidance are available at the links below.

COVID-19: A Gender Lens    Global Response Appeal    Modern Contraceptives    GBV and Coronavirus 
Maternal and Newborn Health & COVID-19    Young People & Coronavirus    
Implications of COVID-19 on Census
COVID-19 Technical Brief for Maternity Services   UNFPA Global Response Plan   COVID-19  Frequently Asked Questions

Regional response

The UNFPA response in the region aligns with the 2030 Agenda, the 2020 WHO Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Global Humanitarian Response Plan, and the UNFPA COVID-19 Global Response Plan.

UNFPA participates in inter-agency coordination mechanisms ensuring prioritization of SRH and GBV services within the COVID-19 response. This includes participation in the WHO EMRO regional crisis management group and sub-working groups (risk communication and community engagement; humanitarian settings and displaced population), regional inter-agency gender theme group, and UN Women-UNICEF-WHO-UNFPA regional coordination meetings on the integration of GBV within health.

Country offices are working closely with other UN agencies, governments, implementing partners and other partners, to ensure the continuation of services and safeguard gains in SRH and GBV.