Dr. Tamar Khomasuridze1
1 UNFPASRH Regional Adviser, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
In November 2019 global community joined Nairobi Summit to review the results achieved since 1994 in delivering ICPD Programme of Action. The renewed commitments made by the governments, civil society, academia and development partners is a significant step to accelerate the progress in achieving the universal access to sexual and reproductive health in line with sustainable development goals.
The economic and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating, and health sector in under double pressure: to respond to pandemic and to ensure the continuity of health services. COVID-19 pandemic made significant impact on continuity of SRH services in all countries; the countries need to adopt new, evidence based, approaches to increase the efficiency of SRH services: to maintain and expand the coverage of the population groups, being affected by financial crisis and to expand the range of essential SRH services under UHC to reduce diseases burden.
Three strategic approaches can reduce state expenditures for SRH services:
- Expanding the range of essential SRH services, integrated at the primary health care level
- Focus on preventive services, acting early and applying life course approach;
- Applying digital solutions for providers’ training, service provision and population awareness.
COVID-19 made significant impact on access to SRHR services and this impact was much higher at the secondary health care level due to the special measures and profiling of the hospitals. It is evident that the primary health care level, even being under extreme pressure, remains the cornerstone of pandemic response, being highly adaptable in meeting pandemic challenges, including the delivery of wider range of SRH services to meet the needs of population. In addition, lower cost, better access and higher effectiveness of integrated SRH services are the advantages of the primary health care facilities.
Life course approach to SRH service planning is critical public health pillar:early actionfor diseases’ prevention is critical for decreasing the health expenditures and achieving better health outcomes;
Integration of the essential SRH services under UHC and the provision of the preventive services at the primary health care level are the most efficient solutions, tomaintain and increase the access to the essential SRH services, to decrease diseases burden and most importantly, to decrease expenditures for treatment of SRH diseases and conditions in short and mid-term perspective (e.g. reproductive tract cancers, STI/HIV, infertility, complications of pregnancy and delivery, unsafe abortions etc). In a longer term perspective, the social and economic benefits, resulting from improved SRHR will continue to pay dividends over time and generations.