Tuesday, April 16, 2024

COVID-19’s Impact on Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Services Worldwide

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The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unexpected repercussions on sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services across the globe. Changes in the nature and prevalence of these services have not been thoroughly compiled. An effort was made to collate reported outcomes on the impact of COVID-19 on sexual and reproductive healthcare access and delivery in countries with universal healthcare systems.

A comprehensive search was conducted using MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and CINAHL from January 1st, 2020 to June 6th, 2023. The focus was on original research that reported on COVID-19 and SRH access and/or delivery. This included twenty-eight OECD countries with similar economies and universal healthcare systems. Various aspects such as study characteristics, participant characteristics, study design, and outcome variables were explored. The Quality Assessment with Diverse Studies (QuADS) tool was used to evaluate the methodological quality of each article.

Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare

Challenges and Adaptations in Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A total of eighty-two studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The findings were qualitatively summarised into the domains of antepartum care, intrapartum care, postpartum care, assisted reproductive technologies, abortion access, gynecological care, sexual health services, and HIV care. It was found that the research was focused on relatively few countries. Factors such as service disruptions, unclear policy decisions, decreased timeliness of care, and fear of COVID-19 exposure negatively impacted access and delivery. Providers favored models of care that avoided in-person appointments for outpatient services. Hospitals opted for care models that diminished the time and number of people in the hospital and aerosol-generating environments.

In conclusion, the studies revealed a reduction in access and delivery across most domains of SRH services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The variations in service restrictions and accommodations were inconsistent within countries and between institutions. It is suggested that future work should focus on examining the long-term impacts of COVID-19, on underserved populations, and underrepresented countries.


Original Article DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0294744

Original title: Impact of COVID-19 on access to and delivery of sexual and reproductive healthcare services in countries with universal healthcare systems: A systematic review

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