Other key healthcare services may be compromised, putting women at disproportionate risk.

Healthcare funding during crises is often prioritised to meet urgent increases in critical needs and this can result in compromises to other important health care services. Fear among communities and physical distancing restrictions can also result in people being less willing to access health care for other purposes. Sexual and reproductive health, maternal and newborn care and vaccination programmes are some of the key health services that are often compromised during outbreaks and this typically has long term impacts on women and child health.

Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) may also be compromised at this time. In some settings we are seeing people panic buying sanitary products resulting in limited access for many. In other settings the economic impact of COVID-19 may mean that women and girls are now less able to afford MHM products. In settings where there are existing stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation these barriers may be at risk of being unreported and undiscussed.

Women are also more likely than men to have a disability and people with disabilities typically have worse access to healthcare and poorer health outcomes than non-disabled people. Barriers accessing healthcare among women with disabilities are typically more pronounced than for men. These existing inequalities are likely to be exacerbated at times like this, when health systems are stretched.

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Editor’s notes

Author: Sian White
Reviewed by: Jane Wilbur,Bethany Caruso, Pryia Nath, Chelsea Huggett
Last updated: 11.5.2020

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