As the COVID-19 pandemic gained momentum in 2020, UNFPA implemented the third year of its Strategic Plan 2018–2021. The plan’s targets are three transformative results to be achieved by 2030: ending preventable maternal deaths, ending unmet need for family planning, and ending GBV and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and child marriage. UNFPA adapted and responded quickly to the global emergency, focusing immediately on maintaining the provision of SRH information and services and on mitigating the impact of the pandemic on progress towards the three transformative results.
In April 2020, UNFPA rolled out its Global Response Plan to the COVID-19 pandemic, comprising three strategic priorities: (a) continuity of SRH services, including protection of the health workforce; (b) addressing GBV and harmful practices; and (c) ensuring the supply of contraceptives and reproductive health commodities. The plan also identified as accelerators: (a) leaving no one behind; (b) data; (c) risk communication and community engagement; and (d) youth engagement to guide the plan and engage young people in the response.
In line with the Global Response Plan, UNFPA country programmes reprogrammed and repurposed resources to address the vast, emergent needs, and adapted programmes to provide continuity. In the early stages of the pandemic, UNFPA issued operational, programmatic and technical guidance to its regional and country offices, particularly regarding reprogramming, repurposing and the reprioritization of planned activities to ensure that interventions were COVID-19 sensitive and integrated an immediate humanitarian response with early and longer-term recovery action. Many of these activities revolved around ensuring adequate protective equipment and prevention measures were in place, leveraging public-health education opportunities at every possible juncture, and educating health-care workers and the public about how to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19. UNFPA demonstrated an acute awareness of and sensitivity to the power of data in emergencies, as well as a unique understanding of the mental health needs brought on by the stress and isolation of this challenging period.
Through the voice of country offices across the globe, this report captures the story of how UNFPA has adapted, how the pandemic has impacted its goals, and how the lessons learned will be used to advance the UNFPA mission in the future.