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Every year on 11th July, World Population Day is commemorated globally, to heighten advocacy and raise awareness of global population issues. This year we are commemorating the day under the theme, “Putting the brakes on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now”.

This is based on the premise that the COVID-19 crisis has taken a great toll on people, communities and economies everywhere. But, not everyone is affected equally. Women, who account for the largest share of front-line health workers, for example, are disproportionately exposed to the coronavirus. The COVID-19 epidemic is having a profound impact on women and adolescents sexual and reproductive health and rights everywhere. In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on women and girls globally.

All women and girls must have access to sexual and reproductive health services, including maternal health and including reproductive health services, have also been limited as a result of containment measures and movement restrictions. The restrictions may lead to women being unable to access modern contraceptives resulting in unintended pregnancies. On the other hand the restrictions of movements have seen the rise of all cases of gender-based violence the world over and Lesotho is no exception. When men and women are confined in one place and are confronted with inability to provide, the results are devastating for them especially for the more vulnerable which are women.

To ensure that women and girls continue to have access to sexual and health rights UNFPA will be supporting the COVID 19 response to ensure continuity of essential health services including SRHR services country wide.

While the Pandemic is only starting to present with cases in Lesotho, the effects of the pandemic have been felt for months now and will continue for some time, it is upon us to put the brakes to the pandemic, We therefore would like to urge all to be aware of the sexual and reproductive health needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls during the pandemic and the need to curb incidences of gender based violence.

Sexual and reproductive health is a crucial public health issue that demands urgent and sustained attention and investment in this period.

As UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, we therefore would like to reaffirm our commitment to support the Government of Lesotho in the fight against COVID 19 and its negative impact on the Basotho people especially women and girls.

UNFPA has measures in place to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on the availability of reproductive health supplies, including modern contraceptives and maternal health medicines.

UNFPA will also continuously support governments and working with partners to ensure reproductive health products are available and  labelled as essential supplies from port to last mile.