The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility took center stage as the main theme of the 2021 World Population Day.
The pandemic reportedly compromised health care systems particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health, with family planning services being the most extensively disrupted health services globally.
World Population Day, which is observed on 11th July each year seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The world population stands at 7.7 billion as at 2020.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), while acknowledging that there is uncertainty on how COVID-19 will affect birth rates, held webinars to discuss key among other topics; the impact of the pandemic on fertility preferences and behaviours, the availability and use of family planning, teenage marriage, challenges of data collection.
UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem, called for the closing of gaps everywhere when it comes to access to sexual and reproductive health services, saying they are essential, not optional.
“The Pandemic may influence choices but the right to deci9de when and if to have a family does not change nor the responsibility of health systems to uphold that right,” said Dr Natalia Kanem
“We must promote reproductive well-being, which occurs when we have the information, services and support we need to have control over our bodies.” UNFPA.
Every two minutes a woman dies from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In order to provide essential reproductive health, maternal and newborn services, the world urgently needs 900,000 midwives according to UNFPA.
Kenya Commemorates World Population Day Amidst Raising Cases of Teenage Pregnancies
Teenage Pregnancies continue to be on the rise in Kenya with recent statistics from the Ministry of Education painting the picture of the severity of the issue.
According to a report from the office of the president 250,000 girls failed to report to school in January 2020, following the resumption of learning after the 2020 schools’ closure due to COVID-19, According to a new report from the office of the president.
According to the Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor in the Office of the President Ruth Kagia, a total of 160,000 girls, aged 10-19, out of of the 250,000 girls who dropped out were reported to have fallen pregnant or married off.
“Quite a lot of girls did not return to school when they were opened in January because they either got pregnant or got into early marriages,” said Ms Ruth Kagia, Deputy Chief of Staff, Policy and Strategy at the Office of the President.