Estimated 1.4 million unplanned pregnancies during COVID-19 pandemic, according to UNFPA

on 18 March 2021

There is estimated to be 1.4 million unplanned pregnancies due to loss of access to family-planning services during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to estimates by the UNFPA.

During the COVID-19 pandemic family-planning services were withdrawn to increase resources for the pandemic or supply chains were hit affecting 12 million women.

The projections took into consideration contraceptive service disruptions in 115 lower and middle-income countries over the previous year using data from the UNFPA and partner surveys, as well as Google Mobility data.

Using this data, it was found that family-planning was disrupted due to travel restrictions, interrupted supply chains, stock-outs and overwhelmed health facilities.

Speaking to the UNFPA, Maya Bohara, 32, from Nepal, had relied in injectable contraceptives for nine years. She was married at the age of 17 and had four children by the age of 24.

When she visited her nearest healthcare centre for her next contraceptive injection in June 2020 she was told “it had no stock of the contraceptive during that time…I was constantly worried about having an unwanted pregnancy.”

Shortly after missing her contraceptive injection she became pregnant.

Maya said her baby is well-loved, but she acknowledges that their circumstances are more precarious than before.

“With a meagre income, raising our fifth child is going to be a tough battle for me and my husband.”

The UNFPA’s projection showed that family-planning disruptions were largely concentrated in April and May 2020, with an average disruption of 3.6 months.

The projection report ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Family Planning: What we know one year into the pandemic ‘ can be found here.