The Role of Telemedicine in Addressing Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kolawole A. Oyediran, Olusesan A. Makinde, Olugbemiga Adelakin

Abstract

The outbreak of COVID-19 threatens continued access to non-urgent healthcare including sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. With the epicentre of the outbreak projected to shift to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) after making significant impact in China, Europe, USA, and South America, it is necessary for countries in this region to begin to plan for how to tackle a rapid surge in cases. Health facilities are already being primed for increased presentation of COVID-19 cases. As countries prepare, they also need to consider how non-urgent services will not be interrupted. Estimates of a potential disruption in access to long and short acting contraceptives for up to 12 months will result in an additional 15 million unintended pregnancies and additional 28,000 maternal deaths. Thus, effort must be made to ensure that the gains made in SRH outcomes over several years are not lost. The potential of utilizing telemedicine to continue to offer healthcare services to the population for non-urgent care needs to be considered. It will not only provide for continued access to important services that can be delivered remotely but will reduce the risks of COVID-19 infection for both the client and the health workers. (Afr J Reprod Health 2020 (Special Edition); 24[2]: 49-55).

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