Nigeria, like many other countries, has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While efforts have been devoted to curtailing the disease, a major concern has been its potential effects on the delivery and utilization of reproductive health care services in the country. The objective of the study was to investigate the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns had affected the provision of essential reproductive health, maternal and child health, and adolescent health services in primary health care facilities across the Nigerian States.
This was a cross-sectional study of 307 primary health facilities in 30 Local Government Areas in 10 States, representing the six geopolitical regions of the country. A semi-structured interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to obtain data on issues relating to access and service provision before, during and after COVID-19 lockdowns from the head nurses/midwives in the facilities. The questionnaire was entered into Open Data Kit mounted on smartphones. Data were analysed using non-parametric statistics.
The results show that a large proportion of the primary health facilities in the selected states opened for the provision of essential sexual and reproductive health and rights services during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. However, there was a significant reduction in clients’ utilization of services due to challenges experienced in service implementation such as stock-outs, and low demand for services by clients. Although the health facilities reported identifying cases of COVID-19, there was limited provision for primary protective equipment and other special offers that would motivate the health workers to optimize services for clients.
We conclude that efforts made to address these challenges by governments, non-governmental agencies, the private sector, and donor agencies working in low resource settings would reduce the health and social burden posed by COVID-19 in Nigeria.