I am delighted to have been co-author of this important study by Rutgers which actively engaged young people in Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

‘It used a mobile web survey and Focus Group Discussions to assess the impact of COVID-19 prevention measures on their sexual and reproductive health (SRH).  Findings indicate that the pandemic curtailed young people’s access to SRH information and services and had a profoundly negative effect on their mental well-being and ability to seek preventive or curative care. Fear of catching COVID-19 in health facilities, a lack of transport, and the closure of services were reported by young people as the main barriers to accessing family planning, STI and HIV testing and treatment during the pandemic.

‘With school closures, Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) had ceased or gone online which made it difficult for those with little or no internet access to participate and gain accurate SRH information. Girls had difficulty accessing menstrual hygiene products as, in many cases, they had previously received them from school. The data also revealed an increase in early marriage, gender-based violence and unwanted pregnancy. LGBTQI communities and young people living with HIV were subjected to increased stigma and discrimination.

‘The recommendations, largely formulated by the young people themselves, underscored the need for rectifying injustice and inequality, particularly among vulnerable groups, as well as ensuring accessible sources of accurate information together with COVID-secure SRH service delivery…more