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EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC

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THE unusual ‘disappearance’ of 500 pregnant women in the country was highlighted in a report by the UNFPA last week. In this report, which was presented by the UNFPA acting country coordinator, she mentioned how the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic include 500 pregnant women being unaccounted for at local health centres in the past approximately three to four months. Unfortunately, this is not the only health division that might be experiencing these kinds of anomalies. Health is also not the only sector that might be overlooked due to the pandemic.


Things


Has anyone stopped to perhaps think about the number of ‘things’ that have been left on the back burner due to the outbreak of the coronavirus? This is because numerous entities and issues have been sidelined and are not getting as much attention as prior to this scourge. Let’s take for instance the case of the 500 women, who have probably not been able to access prenatal care due to fear of being exposed to the virus at their local health facility or being restricted by the previously applied lockdown regulations.


Some would even argue that their inability to attend their monthly check-ups stems from assuming they wouldn’t be assisted at their local health centre due to the priority given to coronavirus related issues. These issues include the boycotting by healthcare workers due to unavailability of PPE and the regulation of wearing masks being mandatory yet this might induce difficulty in breathing, more especially among pregnant women.


Risky


Unfortunately, lack of prenatal care can be quite risky, as it might result in infant mortality or infant impairment, either physical or mental. It has also been previously reported that the country is experiencing a medical drug shortage, therefore, further exacerbating medical issues that have been supposedly sidelined due to the prioritisation of COVID-19. The other consequence of this pandemic is the looming surge in HIV/AIDS infections. According to a UNAIDS article published online on May 11, 2020, there is a high possibility that all the efforts made to combat HIV/AIDS over the years might be sacrificed to the fight against COVID-19. However, UNAIDS does maintain that COVID-19 shouldn’t be an excuse to divert investment from HIV.


There have also been fears and, well, speculation, that there might be a looming surge in teenage pregnancies as a consequence of the pandemic. This is because the continued closure of schools might have resulted in laxity on the teens’ part. Most teenagers are roaming streets aimlessly and ‘chilling’ on street corners without any care in the world.


Consequence


The inevitable consequence of this continued idle state is the blossoming of love relationships, and eventually unwarranted pregnancies. These effects of COVID-19 should be our focal points going forward, to ensure they don’t become irrepressible. It is easy to prioritise one thing simply because it has become, I quote, “the talk of the town.” However, we need to exercise vigilance in our approach and be able to identify things from a bird’s eye view, to avoid a total collapse in our internal as well as external systems.


The COVID-19 fight is unfortunately not the only fight we are faced with now; therefore the attention definitely has to be divided accordingly. It is easy to point out what is wrong than it is what is right; therefore, to avoid negative feedback in our COVID-19 approach we need to steer away from assessing it singularly. This is because most will rate the country’s approach based on all the other challenges the country purportedly has, therefore rendering our COVID-19 approach unsatisfactory.

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