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COVID-19: Adapting Sexual and Reproductive Health Care to Meet the Needs of Women and Girls

As a global pandemic unfolded, Pathfinder worked to maintain critical sexual and reproductive health care while protecting our staff, partners, and the communities in which we work from COVID-19. Pathfinder was at the forefront of the COVID-19 response in many countries. We did this through our local teams in Africa and Asia who are from the communities they serve.

COVID-19 created many challenges—from interrupting delivery of health services and contraceptive supply chains to country-wide lockdowns. Pathfinder’s local teams adapted rapidly to confront these challenges.

Messaging

Ethiopia

Pathfinder incorporated COVID-19 prevention messages into family planning outreach for hard-to- reach communities through community leaders, radio and television campaigns, social media, and car-mounted announcements.

Program: Transform (USAID)

Transform developed rapid response public awareness campaigns using audio-mounted vehicles, reaching more than 3 million people in one month. Transform also distributed critical personal protective equipment to the Regional Health Bureau in Amhara, including blankets, gloves, and scrub suits.

Collaboration

Burkina Faso

Pathfinder worked with ministries of health to help coordinate national and subnational response plans.

In Burkina Faso, Pathfinder’s Country Director is one of five people on a national COVID-19 response team, representing civil society organizations. In this role, she helped mobilize resources for the Ministry of Health to provide personal protective equipment for health care workers, enable a local women’s organization to produce cloth face masks for communities, and ensure the inclusion of essential sexual and reproductive health care within national and subnational response plans.

Gender & Gender-Based Violence Integration

Pakistan

Pathfinder provided guidance, virtual training, and job aids to all frontline health workers, enhancing their capacity to respond to survivors of gender-based violence and make appropriate referrals.

Program: Naya Qadam (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

As COVID-19 swept through communities across Pakistan, Naya Qadam worked with the local government to embed gender-sensitive sexual and reproductive health content in public health messages disseminated through television, radio, local loudspeaker announcements in mosques, and digitally through mobile phones as part of the pandemic response.

Advocacy

India

Pathfinder worked in coalitions with numerous local and global organizations and leaders to advocate for policies that ensure the continuation of essential sexual and reproductive health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In India, Pathfinder led a coalition of more than 25 organizations to successfully advocated to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Prime Minister’s Office to resume family planning and reproductive health, including safe abortion services, at public health centers across the country—services initially suspended during COVID-19 response.

Digital Platforms

Mozambique

Pathfinder used digital platforms (like SMS and WhatsApp) to mentor and support health workers, disseminate messages on COVID-19 and essential sexual and reproductive health care, and enable health workers to engage in remote consultations on on sexual and reproductive health.

Program: Impacto (Canadian Government) and Integrated Family Planning Program (USAID)

In Mozambique, Pathfinder adapted an existing mobile platform to share information with Mozambicans about how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Anyone in Mozambique can send an SMS message containing the key word (COVID) to automatically subscribe to the platform, immediately receive answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19, and conduct a self-screening for symptoms.

COVID-19 Explainer Video

In Kilifi, Kenya, Pathfinder’s Afya Pwani project trained expectant mothers from the Bomani health center on needlework to create masks. 'We make 150 masks daily,' said Hellen Mose, the group’s chairwoman. The benefits reached beyond preventing the spread of COVID-19. 'I can now afford to feed my family without much worry. I feel appreciated and acknowledged in my family.'”

Hellen Mose, Kilifi, Kenya

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