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An analysis undertaken by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund from the District Health Management System (DHMS2) has shown that COVID19 restrictions led to a 14 % decline in number of Family Planning coverage in 2020 in some selected districts, compared to 2019.

The analysis reveals that the main reason for the decline in family planning is the COVID-19 restrictions, but also the strike by health care providers due to lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in July 2020 also impacted the uptake of family planning services last year. In addition, health workers did not consider family planning services as an essential service during the times of lockdown.

The most significant drop in access to services was noted in Quthing with a 40% decline in family planning visits from March to July 2020 as compared to 2019. Overall the districts where the services were poor before the lockdown saw the greatest drop as a result of the lockdown measures.

Reduction of the unmet need for family planning is high on UNFPA’s agenda. In Lesotho, UNFPA supports the government in efforts to reduce the unmet need for family planning which is currently estimated at 18%. Access to and use of contraception is an important strategy to reduce maternal mortality in the country.

The UNFPA Representative to Lesotho Dr Marc Derveeuw emphasized that access to family planning is a fundamental right. He has reiterated that family planning is at the heart of UNFPA’s mandate and transformative results in Lesotho which are especially ending preventable maternal deaths, ending unmet need for family planning. The only way to overcome the decline in family planning as a result of the Covid-19 Lockdown is to invest in long-term methods such as implants, IUDs and injectables. The agency will further step up the roll-out of the Sayana Press method, which has proven to be a successful method to reduce the unmet need for family planning.

He has commended the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho for their commitment and for starting to procure family planning commodities from the national budget in 2020. 

“UNFPA will continue to avail resources to support efforts towards ending the unmet need to family planning in Lesotho,” he has reaffirmed.

UNFPA works to support family planning by ensuring a continuous, reliable supply of quality contraceptives, strengthening national health systems, advocating for policies supportive of family planning, and gathering data to support the impact of the programmes.