This article originally appeared on Devex, 16 October 2020.
LONDON — The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a blow to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent services in many low- and middle-income countries, not only in terms of women’s access to care but in the ability of health workers to deliver services safely and effectively, according to Monique Vledder, head of secretariat and practice manager at the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents, or GFF.
“Travel restrictions during lockdowns, difficulties obtaining personal protective equipment, severe shortages of essential medicines, high infection rates, and increased caring responsibilities at home have created obstacles for health workers, making it difficult — and potentially dangerous — for many to attend work and to provide the high-quality, affordable health services women and children in their communities need,” she said.
Founded in 2015 to help governments in LMICs transform how they prioritize and finance maternal and child health programs, the GFF partnership is playing a key role in protecting and promoting lifesaving services for women, children, and adolescents.
For example, amid the pandemic, GFF has tapped private sector expertise in a string of related initiatives, including tackling supply chain bottlenecks in personal protective equipment and other crucial commodities, as well as supporting the training and deployment of community health workers in rural areas.
Vledder sat down with Devex to discuss the current crisis facing health systems, as well as the work GFF is doing to help protect and empower health workers and the women and children they serve.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.