Improving Maternity Care is a Must During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Aniket Naha:  With the upward rising statistics in the present COVID-19 situation, treatment of pregnant women demands special attention. Some decisions taken during entry-level of the pandemic have resulted in a cutoff of their reproductive health. It has resulted in a sharp rise in neonatal and maternal mortality.

Based on their reproductive health and the menstrual cycle, doctors prescribe appropriate drugs for women’s treatment. There is a significant difference between the dosages and treatment strategies for both males and females.

However, women face immense delays in the services they need amidst the current pandemic. Girls from marginalised communities are thoroughly affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.

The rate of misguidance rises with overburdened health centres. Loss of life prevails when neonatal planning services become inaccessible. Several studies have reported increased miscarriages during this period.

This was also prevalent during the SARS-CoV attack in 2002. Routine checkups for pregnant women have become quite infeasible during the ongoing pandemic. Halt at routine maternity health services and constant fear of moving out have also elevated the issue.

In March 2020, WHO issued guidelines for maintaining supplies to mitigate the urgency and shortage of essential items. Thereafter, pharmacies and grocery shops were kept functional to deliver day-to-day needs.

However, adequate stocks for maintaining women’s hygiene are compromised to a greater extent across the globe. Services like contraception and safe abortion care are seen to be deprioritised.

Travel bans and movement restrictions have curbed down the spread of COVID-19 to some degree. Still, the lockdown and limited production at factories exhibited unintended consequences in the maintenance of women’s health and hygiene.

Keeping the hospitals open has been a real struggle. Doctors and staff have also been adversely affected. The availability of good gynaecologists has decreased due to an over-occupancy of COVID patients at almost all health centres or hospitals.

Several hospitals have run out in providing sufficient beds for ailing patients. With the rapid hike in COVID cases, several government schools, hotels, and even rail coaches have been turned into emergency COVID wards to meet the shortage.

All these issues have aggravated the already inadequate treatment facilities for women. The unavailability of proper nursing homes and hospitals during childbirth has resulted in a surge of maternal or child deaths in India and abroad.

Often primary health care workers feel uncomfortable dealing with women’s reproductive health. In such a situation, the lack of specialists can cause the situation to deteriorate.

On the way to improve this matter, the setup of community health workers is a must. Medical practitioners and health care supervisors need to value women’s health amidst this excruciating pandemic period.

This will not only upgrade women’s mental health but will also maintain balanced reproductive health. Maintaining clean disinfected maternity wards for women in their last trimester and post-delivery checkups are vital and extremely necessary.

Sources:

https://iwhc.org/women-and-girls-covid-19/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/08/women-primary-health-care-fractured-commonwealth-fund-how-to-fix-it/