Indian Journal of Public Health

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year
: 2020  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 251--252

COVID-19: Endangering women's mental and reproductive health


Pallavi Sharma1, Shalini Sharma2, Nilanchali Singh3,  
1 Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Government Medical College (GMC), Kathua, India
2 Assistant Professor, Department of English, Government Gandhi Memorial Science College, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India
3 Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Nilanchali Singh
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi
India




How to cite this article:
Sharma P, Sharma S, Singh N. COVID-19: Endangering women's mental and reproductive health.Indian J Public Health 2020;64:251-252


How to cite this URL:
Sharma P, Sharma S, Singh N. COVID-19: Endangering women's mental and reproductive health. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Nov 29 ];64:251-252
Available from: https://www.ijph.in/text.asp?2020/64/6/251/285616


Full Text



Dear Editor,

COVID-19, declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), needs no introduction by now. If previous epidemics have been a reflection of how women health needs have been largely unmet during such times, causing great mental and physical anguish, COVID-19 too has caused huge implications on the overall health of females.

Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation and remains a major threat during health emergencies and epidemics. The COVID pandemic has caused a remarkable increase in case of violence against women as reported from countries such as China, United Kingdom, United States, France, Cyprus, Argentina, and Singapore.[1] The latest data released by the National Commission for Women show a two-fold increase in gender-based violence.[2] There have been reports of sexual exploitation, where the landlords are exploiting women physically in exchange of cheaper accommodations. The factor attributable to this rise could be the daylong stay and failure to escape an abusive partner, social isolation, the absence of coordination between health, social, and judicial services, and lack of support care for crisis management. Loss of income for unknown period, already existing debts and meeting the demands, and expectations and workload of the home-bound family members further escalates the issue. The lack of emotional and domestic support has a lot of psychological implications. There is a global concern that in the aftermath of the crisis, violence against females will escalate and exacerbate the existing financial inequality between men and women.

Reproduction is a basic human right and so is the access to contraception. The COVID-19 pandemic is showing a negative effect on the production and transportation of contraceptive commodities, resulting in an unmet need for modern contraceptives and hence unintended pregnancies. Apart from this, many women with unwanted pregnancy are being denied medical and surgical options of abortion since there is a debate if abortion should be considered as an essential health service.

The influence of COVID-19 on pregnancy is under research. The Indian Fertility Society had released guidelines on the COVID-19 and fertility, which has emphasized that initiation of the new In-vitro fertilization, intra uterine insemination (IVF and IUI) cycles should be suspended till further notification.[3] Research suggests that it would be advisable to defer pregnancy till we have a more clear insight on the effect on pregnancy.[4] There is no placental transmission of the virus and no proven teratogenicity. However, owing to the responsibilities in the workforce, being caregivers of children and other family members, frequent requirements for maternity services, and clinical settings where the risk of exposure to infection is higher, pregnant women form a special group of concern. Antenatal care has suffered in this pandemic.

We need strong reforms, policies, and measures such as telemedicine, hotlines, and online counseling forums, to counter the social disturbances related to women health. The WHO has provided a document on domestic violence in women and what health system can do.[5] Firm laws, ensuring employment, increasing awareness about women health through social sites, and supporting groups and organizations along with care and compassion, should be given a serious thought.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1Godin M. As Cities around the World Go on Lockdown, Victims of Domestic Violence Look for a Way Out. Time; 2020. Available from: https://time.com/5803887/coronavirus-domest ic-violence-victims/. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 26].
2During Quarantine, Calls to 144 for Gender Violence Increased by 25%. Available from: http://www.diario21.tv/notix2/movil2/?se ccion=desarrollo_nota and id_nota=132124. [Last accessed 2020 Apr 02].
3Indian Fertility Society. COVID 19 and Fertility. Recommendations for Clinicians and Patients; 2020. Available from: https://www.indianfertilitysociety.org/ifs-guideli nes-covid-19/. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 27].
4Yang H, Wang C, Poon LC. Novel corona virus infection and pregnancy. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2020;55:435-7.
5Violence against Women. What Health Workers Can Do? Available from: https://www.who.int/gender/violence/v9.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 27].