Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in context of Nepal 

In Nepal, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on women and children, particularly in terms of maternal mortality, unintended pregnancies, and unsafe abortions. The major barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services include fear of the virus, unavailability of family planning devices, lack of coordination for home services, and transportation difficulties for women with disabilities. A decline in the utilization of SRH services due to the pandemic could result in increased unmet needs for modern contraceptives, unintended pregnancies, maternal and newborn deaths, and unsafe abortions.

Studies have shown that the pandemic has also impacted the health sector in Nepal, leading to a decline in outpatient attendance, utilization of safe abortion services, and use of modern family planning methods. However, there are policy and legal provisions in place to advance SRH rights, such as the National Health Sector Strategy 2016-2021, Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Act 2018, and Nepal Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health Program Roadmap 2030.

A recent study conducted among domestic workers, entertainment sector workers, sex workers, and conflict-affected women in Nepal found that during the pandemic, many participants did not have access to emergency contraceptive pills, condoms, family planning devices, maternal vaccines, ANC services, PNC services, safe delivery services, pregnancy complication services, safe abortion services, STDs services, same day/ rapid testing, HIV counseling, and services related to gender-based violence. The study also found that the cost of health services and medicines had increased and that SRHR issues had led to mental stress for many participants. An online study done in seven provinces with girls and women also found that access and availability of essential medicines had decreased during the pandemic.

Read the Factsheet here.