Experts have called for adopting specific strategies in the family planning programme during the novel coronavirus pandemic to address various issues, including the increasing risks of infant and maternal mortality.
Speaking at a webinar, they said the use of contraceptives has decreased due to Covid-19 while child marriage and home birth rates have increased.
As a result, the risk of increasing infant and maternal mortality rates is growing, the experts added.
In observance of the World Population Day 2020, the Department of Population Sciences at the University of Dhaka and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Bangladesh jointly organised the webinar on Saturday.
Fazilatun Nessa Indira, state minister for Women and Children Affairs, attended the webinar as the chief guest.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, chairperson of Brac; Abul Jamil Faisal, a public health expert and member of the national advisory committee on coronavirus; Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education; among others, also took part in the discussion.
Professor Dr Mohammad Mainul Islam, chairman of the Dhaka University population sciences department, moderated the webinar.
Participants at the webinar said family planning or reproductive healthcare activities are being disrupted at the grassroots level amid the pandemic. All those mothers who took antenatal care are not able to take it this time.
Furthermore, many people are not getting birth control materials on time as family planning workers are not able to provide door-to-door service due to Covid-19.
The experts said that the country needs to adopt specific strategies to solve these problems and that these strategies have to be catered to the more marginalised and vulnerable groups.
Region-based planning is required and the design of providing the service needs to be reviewed, they added.
Abul Jamil Faisal said the crisis has been exacerbated by the increasing number of home births.
He added that maternal cramps and postpartum haemorrhage have also increased among women, saying convulsions and postpartum haemorrhage are some of the leading causes of maternal mortality in the country.
Rasheda K Chowdhury said people have to give user-friendly messages during the Covid-19 period. A message should be given on avoiding pregnancy during the coronavirus period and keeping adequate amounts of birth control materials, she suggested.
Hossain Zillur Rahman said many pregnant women die on their way to the hospital due to the dilapidated condition of roads.
He further said gender-based violence is on the rise due to impunity and that should be given importance as well.