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In an interview with Rudaw’s Rozhin Mahdi, Dr Rita Columbia, the UNFPA representative to Iraq, said that women, especially IDPs and refugees, have had to deal with a lack of health services during the pandemic, including consulting a midwife and accessing family-planning services.

“One of the obstacles was a shortage of health personnel because many of the doctors, nurses, midwives, shifted their tasks… to provide services related to COVID,” she said.

According to Dr Columbia, before the pandemic, 67 per cent of outpatient clinics in Erbil provided family-planning services.

“During COVID, this service was reduced to 8 per cent,” added Dr Columbia.

This interview was conducted in Erbil on May 1, 2021.