BY DANIEL OTIENO
The regulations relating to control of COVID-19 play an important role in preventing the pandemic and containing the spread of the virus.
However, we need to address some of the regulations in the context of accessibility to maternal health services including prevention of unsafe abortion and accessibility to family planning services.
Health services have been classified as essential services within the control of COVID-19. Yet many challenges remain regarding accessing services such as ante natal and post natal services and comprehensive abortion care.
This not only includes movement restrictions during the curfew hours but also availability and affordability of these services.
Since the curfew was instituted, most of the health facilities in rural and informal settlements have been closing by 6 p.m. The facilities are also not able to accommodate adequate health workers due to institutional financial capacity.
This means that in the event of an emergency, for instance pregnancy complications, the expectant mother must be rushed to Kenyatta National Hospital or Pumwani maternity hospital in the case of Nairobi.
Another challenge is the availability of transport during the curfew hours. Between 9p.m and 4 a.m. when the curfew is observed, the only means of transport is the motorbike. However, the motorbike riders themselves must also observe the regulations and so many are not available.
Chances are that if pregnancy complications occur during the curfew hours, the mother will have to rely on ambulance services from the County government or from charitable organizations that offer health services.
COVID-19 and the related movement regulations therefore pose the challenge of implementing that Article 43(1a) which gives the right to health and Article 26 which provides for emergency medical treatment.
Prevention of unsafe abortion as well as access to maternal health services can be achieved by ensuring implementation of the related constitutional provisions and more importantly addressing maternal health in the context of human rights.
The budgetary allocation set for prevention of COVD-19 must take into account access to contraceptive services, prevention of pregnancy complications, prevention of unsafe abortion and community health education.
Continued Collaborations between the public and private sector will ensure health sensitization and awareness creation on the availability of health services including maternal health services and comprehensive abortion care.