The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionate effects on people living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), exacerbating weak health systems. We conducted a scoping review to identify, map, and synthesise studies in LMICs that measured the impact of COVID-19 on demand for, provision of, and access to contraceptive and abortion-related services, and reproductive outcomes of these impacts. Using a pre-established protocol, we searched bibliographic databases (December 2019–February 2021) and key grey literature sources (December 2019–April 2021). Of 71 studies included, the majority (61%) were not peer-reviewed, and 42% were based in Africa, 35% in Asia, 17% were multi-region, and 6% were in Latin America and the Caribbean. Most studies were based on data through June 2020. The magnitude of contraceptive service-related impacts varied widely across 55 studies (24 of which also included information on abortion). Nearly all studies assessing changes over time to contraceptive service provision noted declines of varying magnitude, but severe disruptions were relatively uncommon or of limited duration. Twenty-six studies addressed the impacts of COVID-19 on abortion and postabortion care (PAC). Overall, studies found increases in demand, reductions in provision and increases in barriers to accessing these services. The use of abortion services declined, but the use of PAC was more mixed with some studies finding increases compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. The impacts of COVID-19 varied substantially, including the country context, health service, and population studied. Continued monitoring is needed to assess impacts on these key health services, as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.
The prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension is increasing among reproductive-aged women in Bangladesh. However, the pattern of contraceptive use among this population remains unknown. We, therefore, explored the pattern of contraceptive use among reproductive-aged women with diabetes and/or hypertension in Bangladesh.
We extracted and analysed data of 3,947 women from the 2017/18 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey. Women’s pattern of contraceptive use was our outcome variable. We first classified the contraceptive using status as no method use, traditional method use (periodic abstinence, withdrawal, other traditional) and modern method use (pill, intra-uterine device, injections, male condom, female sterilization, male sterilization). We later classified these as (i) no contraceptive use vs any contraceptive use, (ii) traditional method or no use vs modern method use, (iii) traditional method vs modern method use. The explanatory variables were diagnosis of diabetes only, hypertension only or both diabetes and hypertension. The multilevel Poisson regression with robust variance was used to explore the associations.
The overall prevalence of contraceptive use was 68.0% (95% CI 66.3–69.7). The corresponding prevalences were 69.4% (95% CI 61.8–76.1) in women with diabetes only, 67.3% (95% CI 63.5–70.9) with hypertension only, and 62.0% (95% CI 52.8–70.4) in women having both diabetes and hypertension. The prevalence of modern methods of contraceptive use was lower (46.4%, 95% CI 37.4–55.6) and traditional methods use was higher (16.6%, 95% CI 13.8–16.8) in women who had both diabetes and hypertension than in women who did not have these conditions. The fully adjusted regression model showed that the prevalence of traditional method use was 31% (Prevalence ratio: 1.31, 95% CI 1.02–2.01) higher in women having both diabetes and hypertension compared with their counterparts who had none of these conditions.
In Bangladesh, women with both diabetes and hypertension were more likely to use traditional contraception methods. These women are likely to experience increased risks of unwanted pregnancies and associated adverse maternal and child health outcomes. Targeted policies and programs should be undertaken to promote modern contraceptive use among women living with both chronic conditions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption to essential health service provision globally, including in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Recognising the criticality of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, we review the actual reported impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SRH service provision and evidence of adaptations that have been implemented to date. Across LMICs, the available data suggests that there was a reduction in access to SRH services, including family planning (FP) counselling and contraception access, and safe abortion during the early phase of the pandemic, especially when movement restrictions were in place. However, services were quickly restored, or alternatives to service provision (adaptations) were explored in many LMICs. Cases of gender-based violence (GBV) increased, with one in two women reporting that they have or know a woman who has experienced violence since the beginning of the pandemic. As per available evidence, many adaptations that have been implemented to date have been digitised, focused on getting SRH services closer to women. Through the pandemic, several LMIC governments have provided guidelines to support SRH service delivery. In addition, non-governmental organisations working in SRH programming have played significant roles in ensuring SRH services have been sustained by implementing several interventions at different levels of scale and to varying success. Most adaptations have focused on FP, with limited attention placed on GBV. Many adaptations have been implemented based on guidance and best practices and, in many cases, leveraged evidence-based interventions. However, some adaptations appear to have simply been the sensible thing to do. Where evaluations have been carried out, many have highlighted increased outputs and efficiency following the implementation of various adaptations. However, there is limited published evidence on their effectiveness, cost, value for money, acceptability, feasibility, and sustainability. In addition, the pandemic has been viewed as a homogenous event without recognising its troughs and waves or disentangling effects of response measures such as lockdowns from the pandemic itself. As the pandemic continues, neglected SRH services like those targeting GBV need to be urgently scaled up, and those being implemented with any adaptations should be rigorously tested.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is becoming an increasingly important cause of heart disease in pregnancy in low- and middle – income countries (LMICs). Preconception and contraception counselling based on risk stratification has the potential to reduce maternal complications. Data is lacking from LMICs on the availability and effectiveness of preconception counselling (PCC) in women with CHD (WWCHD).
Madras Medical College Pregnancy and Cardiac disease (M-PAC) Registry is a single center prospective observational registry conducted at a tertiary referral institution in South India from July 2016 to December 2019. Baseline features and feto-maternal outcomes were compared in WWCHD with and without PCC. Predictors of post-delivery contraception were identified.
Of the 107 eligible pregnancies with data on counselling, only 49.5% had received PCC. Pregnancies involving women with corrected CHDs (62.3% vs 33.3%; P = 0.006) and cyanotic CHD (20.8% vs 11.1%; P = 0.042) were more likely to get PCC. High risk mWHO categories were non-significantly less likely to get PCC (32% vs 39%). Primary outcome of death or heart failure was non-significantly low in the PCC group (3.8% vs 7.4% P = 0.4). Patients with high risk m WHO categories were less likely to get Tier I contraceptives post-delivery (46% vs 79.7% P = 0.004).
Preconception and post conception counselling, which have the potential to improve outcome in WWCHD, are being underused in LMICs. Health care systems should ensure multidisciplinary pregnancy and heart team approach to offer timely lesion specific pre-conceptional counselling, shared decision making and appropriate peri-pregnancy care for WWCHD.