Strong words and action needed to protect women’s lives during this pandemic

The awful reality is that more women and girls could die due to disruption of sexual and reproductive health services than to the coronavirus itself

Doctors Without Borders
6 min readJul 2, 2020


February 2019: In Choloma, in the north of Honduras, an MSF team works at a clinic that offers family planning services, prenatal and postnatal consultations, psychosocial support to victims of violence, as well as assisting deliveries. Health promotion teams visit different sites to raise awareness of the services available and to provide information about sexual and reproductive health for adolescents. Photo: Christina Simons/MSF

By Avril Benoît, executive director for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières in the United States (MSF-USA)

As world leaders attempt to tackle an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises, many of them deepened beyond imagination by the coronavirus pandemic, the United States is throwing its weight around on the global stage to obstruct lifesaving aid efforts.

The Trump Administration appears intent on blocking international efforts and resolutions containing these critically important words: sexual and reproductive health.

Sexual and reproductive health care is essential health care. Yet it is often neglected, especially during emergencies. The health risks facing women and girls tend to multiply in times of crisis, and we can see the dangers clearly during COVID-19.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams around the world see women struggling to obtain the health services they need. Health facilities are shutting down, transportation is restricted, supplies of medicines and contraceptives are running low, and time-sensitive services are delayed — with devastating consequences. Unless we act now, women and girls will die of preventable causes or suffer lifelong injuries simply because they cannot access care.

And yet, the US is using its tremendous power as the largest funder of global health and humanitarian assistance to slash international support for these essential services.

Most recently, the US has been working to strike references to sexual and reproductive health in an important resolution before the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on strengthening emergency humanitarian…



Doctors Without Borders

Medical aid org working globally to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.