How COVID-19 impacted on women, adolescents’ health – Survey

by Amref Health Africa

By Zayamu Hasssan

Poor mental health, disruptions to education, loss of income and violence, are some of the worrying consequences of COVID-19, according to new findings in a recent study, ‘Finding Hope: Lived experiences of women, children, and adolescents, in their own words.’

According to the survey, the experiences of over 30,000 people, mainly women, and young people were solicited in 43 Asian, African, Latin American, and Caribbean countries through surveys, interviews, webinars, and social media.

It revealed that half of the young people (544/1,088) surveyed in Latin America and the Caribbean feared technology problems during homeschooling would affect future prospects

The survey disclosed that a phone-based survey in Bihar (India) showed that 91 percent (1,042/1,150) of respondents said that COVID-19 and lockdown had an adverse impact on their income.

Also, 60 percent (765/1,275) of pregnant women and new mothers in five Kenyan counties; Bungoma, Kiambu, Makueni, Murang’a, and Nairobi reported that COVID-19 had impacted their decision to seek care, either in terms of the location or frequency of care-seeking.

Commenting on the survey, Executive Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), Helga Fogstad, said often policy decisions are taken in the absence of hearing directly from community members about what they need and want.

“The experiences and voices in the “Finding Hope” project shine a light on what really matters to women and young people. This information is vital not only for steering COVID-19 policy and programming now but also for encouraging greater investments in community-based accountability systems to support post-pandemic recovery and resilience.”

PMNCH is the world’s largest alliance on women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health issues, with more than 1,000 member organizations.

The Global CEO, Amref Health Africa Dr. Githinji Gitahi, said the study proof of what has consistently been saying that “Women and children continue to bear the biggest brunt of the pandemic on all fronts, whether it’s their economic or social well-being.”

“Women are overrepresented in many of the industries hardest hit by COVID-19, such as agriculture, food service, retail, and entertainment, including representing over 70 percent of the health workforce, which is at high risk in the pandemic.

“Women, children, and the youth continue to be prioritized in our various programs across Africa to ensure that COVID-19 recovery efforts reach these critical demographics.”

Finding Hope, according to the survey results, showed that across different contexts and regions, the reported experiences of women and adolescents are strikingly similar.

Stress and anxiety are rooted in disruptions to daily activities, education, and work, as well as restrictions on mobility and social interaction.

Some of the concerns, it said, included impact on mental health and wellbeing due to disruption of life; limits on access to formal and informal education; food insecurity; loss of livelihoods; lack of access to health information and services; limitations to sexual and reproductive health and rights; increased violence; and lack of safety and reduced agency.

On mitigating the impact of COVID-19, the survey disclosed that collaborating organizations also identified a range of strategies and approaches being implemented in different countries to address the significant challenges facing women and young people.

Some of the common strategies, the survey said, included government-led economic measures to stabilize household income, despite the widespread loss of livelihoods; inclusion of sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition (SRMNCAH+N) services in government essential service lists.

It included using digital tools and traditional media to reach diverse population groups with health messages and psychological support; collective planning and implementation by civil society, humanitarian and non-governmental organizations, as well as self-help groups, frontline and community workers, to ensure the sustained provision of essential services to affected families and marginalized groups during the lockdown.

Article first published on

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