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COVID-19 cases in U.S. top 1 million

An estimated 47 million women in 114 low and middle-income countries will not be able to access any form of modern birth control if lockdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic continue for six months, the United Nations predicted in a report released Tuesday. This will result in at least 7 million unwanted pregnancies, the United Nations Population Fund predicted, and if disruptive social distancing measures continue for a year, the number of unwanted pregnancies will hit 15 million.

“Contraceptives have to be considered life-saving essential and have to continue throughout the crisis. They should not be considered as something secondary and something you can postpone because right now you have to focus somewhere else,” Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, deputy director of the UNFPA, the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, told CBS News.

Lockdowns are seriously restricting women’s movements and limiting the capacity of providers to supply birth control in many countries around the world, he explained.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), which runs women’s health clinics globally, said in a report that one in five of its services had been forced to close due to measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. That’s more than 5000 clinics in 64 countries, mostly in Africa and South Asia.

In places where services remained open, the IPPF warned that staffers were facing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), and women were afraid of visiting because they didn’t want to risk leaving their homes. Alakbarov said that access to some birth control methods in particular – injectables and other long-term options- would be especially difficult during the crisis.

“The pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on women and we have… to be attentive to what is happening around us and make sure that every woman, every girl, is provided with (the) dignity and respect she deserves,” Alakbarov said.

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