The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) congratulates the World Health Organization – Western Pacific Region for convening this Regional Committee meeting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We commend WHO’s leadership, dedication, and commitment in coordinating the COVID-19 response in the region and providing clear, science-based guidance to all its Member-States.
In the Western Pacific Region, access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services such as antenatal care, contraception, anti-retroviral treatment, and safe abortion, has suffered significantly. As the breadth of the pandemic continues to unfold and the true impacts emerge, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) must be a priority concern to ensure that women and girls and other vulnerable groups will have uninterrupted access to life-saving SRH services without discrimination.
Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a fundamental human right.
We call on Member States to adequately invest in, and ensure sustained financing for, sexual and reproductive health care of women, girls and other marginalised and vulnerable populations.
COVID-19 disproportionately affects women and girls and exacerbates existing inequalities and discrimination of the most marginalized groups. The COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent movement control orders or lockdowns, increases the risk of abuse and exploitation, such as intimate partner violence due to heightened tensions in the household and harmful practices such as child marriage especially for girls in disadvantaged and hard to reach areas.
Member States comply with international standards and commitments to provide SGBV and SRH services as part of the package of essential services provided during any emergency, in the aftermath and integrate such services into the essential health package.
IPPF is committed to doing its share on the global and regional response. As the largest sexual and reproductive health (SRH) service provider among civil society organizations globally, our health workers are on the frontlines to ensure women and girls, the poor and most vulnerable and marginalised are not denied these essential services during the pandemic.
These are extraordinary times and our efforts are not without challenges and significant resource constraints where the role of the global architecture is more important than ever to ensure global solidarity.
We urge Member States to implement WHO guidance and international commitments to ensure uninterrupted access to a comprehensive suite of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care and commodities during the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery leaving no one behind.