Disruption in accessing sexual and reproductive health services among border populations during COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda

Paul Bukuluki, Peter Kisaakye, Francis Mulekya, John Mushomi, Chrispus Mayora, George Palattiyil, Dina Sidhva, Harish Nair

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Abstract

Background
The spread of COVID-19 exposed the inadequacies inherent in the health care systems of many countries. COVID-19 and the attendant demands for emergency treatment and management put a significant strain on countries’ health care systems, including hitherto strong health systems. In Uganda, as the government strived to contain COVID-19, other essential health care services were either disrupted or completely crowded out. Balancing the provision of COVID-19 treatment and management services and at the same time offering sexual and reproductive health and rights services (SRHR) proved to be a considerable challenge in these circumstances. COVID-19 prevention-related travel restrictions and border closures had far-reaching negative consequences on the mobility of individuals to access essential health services in Uganda. The situation may have been worse for cross-border communities that sometimes access services across the borders.

Methods
Using quantitative data from 1521 respondents and qualitative data (20 key informant interviews and 12 focus group discussions), we investigate the disruption in accessing SRHR services for border communities in Uganda during COVID-19.

Results
Results indicate that females (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.3; 95% confidence interval CI = 1.08-1.79), those with primary education (aOR = 1.47; 95% CI = 1.61-2.57), currently employed (aOR = 2.03; 95% CI = 1.61-2.57) and those with the intention to leave current residence (aOR = 2.09; 95% CI = 1.23-3.55) were more likely to have experienced a disruption in accessing SRHR services. However, respondents aged 35 years, or more were less likely to have experienced a disruption compared to their younger counterparts.

Conclusions
Results shed light on the disruption of access toSRHR services during pandemics such as COVID-19 among a highly mobile population. There is a need to invest in building strong and resilient health care systems that can guarantee continuous access to essential health services including SRHR provisions among mobile populations during pandemics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number04065
Number of pages11
JournalJOURNAL OF GLOBAL HEALTH
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2022

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