Factors That Influenced Access and Utilisation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Among Ugandan Youths During the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown: An Online Cross-sectional Survey
Background The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health care access in many countries. The aim of this study was to explore factors that influenced access and utilisation of sexual and reproductive health services among Ugandan youths during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Methods This was across-sectional study carried out from April 2020 to May 2020 in Uganda. A questionnaire was administered online to participants aged 18 to 30 years. Subjects were recruited using a snowballing approach. STATA version 14.2 was used for statistical analysis. Results Of 724 participants, 203 (28%) reported that they did not have access to information and/or education concerning sexual and reproductive health (SRH). More than a quarter of the participants (26.9%, n=195) reported that testing and treatment services of sexually transmitted infections were not available during the lockdown. 27.2% could not obtain contraceptive supplies. Access to HIV services and menstrual supplies were also impaired. Lack of transportation was the commonest factor cited as limiting access to SRH services during the lockdown (68.7%), followed by the long distance from home to SRH facilities (55.2%), high cost of services (42.2%) and the curfew (39.1%). Sexually transmitted infections were the commonest SRH problems related to SRH during the lockdown (40.4%) followed by unwanted pregnancy (32.4%) and sexual abuse (32.4%). Marital, educational, and employment status were significantly correlated with the reported experiences of the participants. Conclusion Access to SRH information and services for Ugandan youths was restricted during the COVID-19 lockdown and may have increased the incidence of poor SRH outcomes. Lack of transportation, distance to health facilities, and high cost of services were important limiting factors. The Government and other stakeholders should incorporate SRH among the priority services to be preserved during future outbreaks.
- Journal Article