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UNFPA in Barbados commemorates World Population Day 2021

In commemoration of World Population Day, UNFPA Liaison Office for Barbados and OECS, hosted a virtual Panel Discussion on July 30, 2021 under the theme "COVID-19 and Fertility". Over 50 participants from the region “zoomed in” to hear the discussion from Panelists which included Dr. Godfrey St. Bernard, Population Expert/Demographer, UWI, St. Augustine, Ms. Arlitha Scott, National Family Planning Coordinator, Ministry of Health, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr. Anderson Langdon, Executive Director, Barbados Family Planning Association and Rev. Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean Family Planning Association. 

Rev. Sheerattan-Bisnauthin, in his contribution to the discussion, said the current pandemic has affected most of the world’s population and has had a severe impact in the Caribbean. Initially, the issues surrounding Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) arose. It was stressed that during most pandemics or disasters, SRH is not often seen as essential health service and resources are sometimes redirected to emergency departments, leaving vulnerable persons, especially women and girls with very limited access to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights and choices. By mid-year of 2020, many women found difficulty in accessing essential SRH services, including family planning and other services. Adolescent fertility is another area of concern as this is a major public health and social problem in the Caribbean, a pressing issue from pre-pandemic times. With the lockdown situation and lack of access to contraceptives, CSE and counseling, having to do school at home, the vulnerability of adolescent girls has increased. 

While the other panelists agreed in conclusion, they along with the participants accepted that regionally and globally, it was too early to state the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility due to a lack of data.