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Women in Lesotho to Continue Accessing FP Services Amidst COVID-19

Amid the ravaging effects of COVID-19 in Lesotho, women, including those in the remotest areas, are expected to continue accessing the most needed family planning services.

This after UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund provided Family Planning Commodities worth $477K to the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The commodities, officially handed over at the National Drug and Services Organisation, which distributes medicines and commodities to all health facilities in the country on a monthly basis, also forms part of UNFPA’s effort to relieve the Government of Lesotho’s budget to the COVID-19 response.

Officially handing over the family planning commodities, UNFPA Representative to Lesotho Dr Marc Derveeuw explained that UNFPA decided to increase the 2020 budget to the Kingdom of Lesotho after realizing that the budget was being compromised due to COVID 19.

He commended the Government for the financial commitment to procure sexual and reproductive health commodities including family planning, saying this will ensure choices for women and girls. He also applauded the Government for making good progress in some important indicators including the steady increase in Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) from 47 to 60 percent.

The commodities were officially received by the Deputy Minister of Health Hon. Nto Moakhi who thanked UNFPA for the support saying the Government of Lesotho recognizes that supporting family planning and related interventions have profound health, economic, and social benefits for families and communities.

“These include protecting the health of women and adolescent girls by reducing high-risk pregnancies, protecting the health of children by allowing sufficient time between pregnancies, reducing unintended pregnancies, abortions, supporting women's and adolescents’ rights and opportunities,” he stated adding that since family planning delays the first birth, it enables the adolescent girl to complete education and become economically active.

The commodities include male and female condoms, lubricants and other contraceptives.

This year UNFPA has increased support to the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to support continuity of SRHR services as part of essential health services during COVID-19 and also as a relief mechanism to support the Government’s funding on procurement of commodities.   

Meanwhile, UNFPA in Lesotho under the MPTF project (COVID-19 response) is supporting the Ministry of Health to strengthen integrated outreach services during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Overall, UNFPA has also facilitated adaptation of COVID-19 relating to Sexual and Reproductive Health by the Ministry of Health including multi-months’ dispensation of less skill intensive family planning methods such as pills and condoms to reduce visits to health facilities. Furthermore, Village Health Care Workers have also been trained on distribution of contraceptives during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The aim is to contribute to reduction of the unmet need for family planning in Lesotho which is estimated at 18%.

On the other hand, UNFPA recently joined the rest of the UN family in Lesotho in supporting the fight against COVID 19 by providing Personal Protective Equipment worth $100 000 for nurses and midwives to ensure continuity of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in the country.