Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN: Pandemic Blocked Access to Birth Control in 115 Low- and Medium-Income Countries


Medical workers speak to a woman under observation after receiving the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, at Sunway Medical Centre, in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, March 12, 2021.
Medical workers speak to a woman under observation after receiving the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, at Sunway Medical Centre, in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, March 12, 2021.

The UNFPA reported that almost 12 million women in 115 low- and medium-income countries were unable to gain access to contraception services for an average of 3.6 months during the past year due to the pandemic, resulting in 1.4 million unintended pregnancies.

“Pregnancies don’t stop for pandemics, or any crisis. We must ensure that women and girls have uninterrupted access to lifesaving contraceptives and maternal health medicines,” Dr. Natalia Kanem, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, the international organization’s sexual and reproductive health agency, said Thursday in a statement.

However, “The international community pulled together to mitigate the worst-case scenario,” despite the roadblocks to contraceptives, Kanem said.

“As the world’s largest procurer of contraceptives for developing countries, UNFPA worked with its partners from governments, civil society and the private sector and took immediate measures to mitigate” the pandemic's impact, the U.N. agency said in a statement. “UNFPA secured early funding from governments, added more suppliers to its roster and closely monitored global inventory levels, transferring surplus stock to countries in urgent need amongst other measures. As a result of this shared commitment and quick action, the disruption in access to family planning was less severe than it could have been.”

“Roll up your sleeve and do your part,” former U.S. President George Bush says in a new public service ad, urging Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine. Bush and his wife, Laura, were featured in the video, along with three other former U.S. presidents -- Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter -- and their wives - Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Rosalyn Carter.

“This vaccine means hope,” former President Obama said in the ad.

Denmark, Norway and Ireland have temporarily halted their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while authorities investigate whether the vaccine is linked to blood clots. Thirty cases of the clots have been reported out of 5 million doses of the vaccine. The European Medicines Agency said in a statement “the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.”

Austria, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania are banning inoculations from a batch of one million AstraZeneca doses that was sent to 17 countries. Bulgaria said Friday that it has also suspended AstraZeneca inoculations until the European Medicines Agency develops a report about the vaccine’s efficacy.

The World Health Organization said Friday there is no reason to stop using the AstraZenica vaccine. And a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in Britain, is “both safe and effective” and urged people to take the vaccine “in confidence.”

Tanzania has not reported any COVID-19 cases since May. The BBC reports, however, that the lack of reports may be misleading. The news agency said it talked with a doctor in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, who said there had been a “marked increase” in admissions of patients with respiratory symptoms and patients requiring oxygen. “We're getting no guidance on how to treat patients," the doctor told the BBC.

India reported more than 23,000 new COVID-19 cases Friday.

Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria has tested positive for the coronavirus. She is next in line to ascend the throne. Her husband, Prince Daniel, has also tested positive. The Swedish court said Thursday the couple and their two children are in quarantine.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported more than 118 million global COVID-19 cases Friday. The U.S., with 29.2 million infections, has more cases than anywhere else in the world. India follows with11.3 million cases and Brazil comes in a close third with 11.2 million.

  • 16x9 Image

    VOA News

    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.