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Covid-19: Maharashtra village pushes for family planning to delay pregnancies

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on June 05, 2020 Published on June 05, 2020

New mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities, including lockdowns and curfews, crowded health centres and lack of sufficient skilled birth attendants, as health workers, including midwives, are redeployed to treat Covid-19 patients, the UNICEF recently warned.

The tiny village of Godhegaon in Ahmednagar district is not much aware of UNICEF’s warning but the village has appealed to newly-married couples to go for family planning to delay pregnancies during the pandemic to avoid health risk to mother and child.

There are about 100 newly-married couples in the village, and in a recent meeting village sarpanch Ashok Bhokare made an appeal for family planning. “We appealed to the newly-married youth to avoid giving birth to children, at least for the next one year till Covid-19 is under control. The health system is already under tremendous pressure and we don’t want to expose mother and child to the Covid-19 crisis and the ensuing situation,” Bhokare told BusinessLine.

He added that villagers, including newly-married couples, have responded to the idea. “We have not made family planning mandatory, but have appealed to the youth. Every couple has the right to become a parent, but it is better for the family and the child if pregnancy is postponed considering the current situation,” Bhokare said, adding that even women members in the village have agreed with the Gram Panchayat’s appeal. Recently, a few people in the region were quarantined because they came in contact with Covid-19 patients and the fear of the pandemic looms large in rural areas.

UNICEF has warned that although evidence suggests that pregnant mothers are not more affected by Covid-19 than others, countries need to ensure they still have access to antenatal, delivery and postnatal services. Likewise, sick newborns need emergency services as they are at high risk of death.

“Countries with the expected highest numbers of births in the nine months since the pandemic declaration are: India (20.1 million), China (13.5 million), Nigeria (6.4 million), Pakistan (5 million) and Indonesia (4 million). Most of these countries had high neonatal mortality rates even before the pandemic and may see these levels increase with Covid-19 conditions,” UNICEF stated last month.

Published on June 05, 2020
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