Health system resilience during COVID-19 understanding SRH service adaptation in North Kivu
Women and girls often face increased challenges to accessing healthcare during epidemics on top of pre-existing health disparities. There is emerging evidence that COVID-19 has had negative impacts on the health of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa due to diverted funding, reduced services, negative socioeconomic impacts, and increased or new barriers to access. In the DRC, COVID-19 hit shortly after the end of an Ebola epidemic within a context of protracted insecurity.
This study from ReBUILD for Resilience examined the effects of COVID-19 on SRH services in North Kivu and how the health system did or did not adapt to ensure continued access and utilization of SRH services. It found that there was limited prioritization of SRH during COVID-19. Although the government issued policies on how to adapt SRH services, these were developed centrally, without much guidance on how to operationalize these policies in different contexts. Consequently, healthcare providers and civil society actors developed their own ways to continue activities at local levels, not necessarily in a systematic way. There was limited longer-term strengthening of the health system that could adapt to the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic aside from increased capacity of healthcare providers to manage infection prevention and control measures. However, this was hampered by the lack of personal protective equipment that received no external support. Therefore, donors need to consider how resources can be leveraged to support sustained strengthening of the health system to be able to adapt to shocks even when resources are limited.
Citation: Ho, L.S., Bertone, M.P., Mansour, W. et al. Health system resilience during COVID-19 understanding SRH service adaptation in North Kivu. Reprod Health 19, 135 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12978-022-01443-5
Image: DRC: A Trip to the Front Lines of the Fight Against Ebola – Beni, North Kivu. World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr