India’s Policy Response to COVID-19 and the Gendered Impact on Urban Informal Workers in Delhi NCR: Thematic Brief 5: Policy Responses and Impact on Sexual and Reproductive Health
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With the immediate impact of the pandemic on the healthcare sector, medical centres across the country were burdened by the need to respond to the emergency health contours, resulting in tremendous pressure on hospitals. An oxygen crisis, particularly in NCR, created a greater chasm between the Centre and certain states like Delhi; with the country’s judiciary stepping in at both the High Court and Supreme Court levels to mediate. In the face of rising COVID-19 fatalities, the discussion around Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) receded into the background. In both waves, issues such as disrupted supply of over the counter (OTC) medicines, restricted footfall at chemists and general stores, fear of COVID-19, and limited access to non-COVID-19 healthcare further impacted SRH services across the country, with reports of a dip in institutional deliveries even in urban centres like Delhi emerging during this time. Not only were OTCs difficult to find within India but the country also limited the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines during this time. One among these was progesterone, which is used in contraceptive pills and IUDs.