Unwanted pregnancy and abortion cases could see a rise in Bangladesh amid the coronavirus pandemic, as use of modern contraceptives has gone down, said the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) today.
Cumulative data from January to May 2020 compared with the same period of 2019 shows that uptake of oral contraceptive pill decreased by 20 percent, condom use by 34 percent and injectables by 23 percent.
UNFPA Health Systems Specialist Dr Dewan Md Emdadul Hoque revealed the information based on the data from the Directorate General of Family Planning during the release of UNFPA's State of World Population Report 2020 in a virtual programme.
Use of other long-term contraceptives including IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device), implants, NSV (Scalpel Vasectomy) and tubectomy decreased between 25 to 64 percent, he said.
"It does not mean that the stock of the contraceptives is inadequate. It is there, but the service recipients are not able to access them because they cannot go to the health facilities for lockdown or other reasons," Dr Emdad said.
Besides, if delivery at facilities and by skilled healthcare providers decreased, the rate of maternal and child mortality could also go up, Dr Emdad said.
There is also a possibility that child marriage can go up because of deepening poverty and the closure of schools due to Covid-19 and flood. Child marriage rates in Bangladesh stand at 51 percent, one of the highest in the world, he said.
"Covid-19 has had significant impact on population and family planning. With people staying home, and under lockdown in some cases, there is also a rise in domestic and gender-based violence," said UNFPA Representative in Bangladesh Dr Asa Torkelsson.
She said it is imperative that the authorities make sure that people who need family planning materials and maternal-related services get it on time.
According to the UNFPA's annual State of the Population Report, there are a variety of practices that discriminate between male and female children. In many of the countries, sons are preferred to daughters.
Such practices in Bangladesh however, is not significant though it is still prevalent.
Dhaka University Population Science Department Prof Mohammad Bellal Hossain said, according to Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2014, biased preference for sons in Bangladesh stands at 9.6 percent, which is however, far less than the same metric in 1993, when it was 22.6 percent.
Dr Asa Torkelsson said though preference for sons is not significant in Bangladesh, authorities need to be vigilant of the situation as the technology for detecting the sex of the fetus is now more readily available.
Women and Children Affairs Ministry Secretary Kazi Rawshan Akhter said the government is trying, in various ways, to increase awareness against child marriage and violence against women.
"The government, UN and NGOs – we all should work together to improve the economic empowerment of women and establish a society where men and women have equal rights," she said.