Family Planning and Reproductive Health
Family planning (FP) and reproductive health services (RHS) are important health services for families and communities. These services help people have healthy sexual lives and make informed choices about when to have children and how many children to have. Due to COVID-19 many people have not been able to get family planning counseling or services for sexually transmitted infections (STI's), HIV and gender-based violence (GBV) services.
This has led to more unplanned and teenage pregnancies and more gender inequality and gender-based violence (GBV). Adolescents are even more at risk during COVID-19. They know less about FP and RHS and may not understand what risky sexual behavior is. This leads to higher rates of STI's amongst young people.
Inform adolescents that they can say NO to sex and that, if they choose to have sex, they can negotiate safe sex. Take enough time to listen to their needs and concerns. To help them negotiate safe sex, ask them to practice with you how they would talk to a partner about safe sex. Remind them that FP methods prevent pregnancy and that they should test regularly for STI's and HIV.
Counsel patients to help them choose and use FP methods that suit them. Patients differ, their situations differ, and they may need different kinds of help. Use these tips when counseling patients:
- Encourage them to speak openly about their needs and let them know that what they share is confidential;
- Listen for other support they may need such as STI, HIV or GBV services;
- Tell them to come back at any time if they need to.
It is important to continue these services. Where possible, use telehealth to continue providing counseling and education. Remember to protect yourself by wearing proper PPE when providing in-person/ face-to-face care. Include counseling during antenatal care, immediately after delivery, and during the first year after delivery to prevent unintended pregnancies. Work with immunization services to arrange for FP services during this period.