May 06, 2015: New Delhi/ Kathmandu/ London:The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) have entered into a partnership to ensure that the need for sexual and reproductive health care of young girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers in Nepal is urgently met in the wake of the devastating April 25 earthquake.
An estimated two million women of reproductive age have been affected by the disaster. Of these, there are about 126,000 currently pregnant women who are in urgent need of clean delivery and reproductive health kits. About 2,100 women may suffer from obstetric complications over the next month alone. UNFPA estimates put about 40,000 women of reproductive age – including those at camps for the displaced -- at increased risk of sexual violence.
UNFPA has pledged support to IPPF’s Member Association, the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), to expand and strengthen mobile medical camps. Safe delivery and reproductive health kits, as well as dignity kits which contain essentials including sanitary pads, have also been provided by UNFPA through IPPF to FPAN for women of reproductive age.
UNFPA and IPPF through its SPRINT initiative and FPAN are organising mobile medical camps in affected areas to provide critical sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) along with general health services. So far, IPPF through its SPRINT initiative along with FPAN volunteers and staff have mobilised three mobile teams and one referral unit. These mobile teams have, as of this writing, served more than 1,400 persons in need by providing counselling, consultation examination by doctor and medicines. This has been done through ten different locations in some of the hardest-hit areas, including Bhaktapur, Kavre, Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk and Kathmandu districts.
”Pregnant women and new mothers are often ignored in the aftermath of a disaster, but they are among the most vulnerable and at risk populations,” noted Giulia Vallese, UNFPA Representative in Nepal. “UNFPA is grateful to IPPF and FPAN for this partnership, for it is through our implementing partners on the ground that our lifesaving interventions reach those who need them the most.”
“We welcome the partnership with UNFPA which will strengthen our efforts to provide critical sexual and reproductive care and services in a timely and effective manner. Our endeavour is to reach people with specialised needs especially pregnant women who are in dire need of emergency care. Our Member Association, Family Planning Association of Nepal, has rallied around its staff and resources to respond to this emergency,” said Anjali Sen, Regional Director, IPPF, South Asia Region.
“IPPF through its SPRINT initiative is implementing the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Reproductive Health to ensure that no one is left behind in receiving the care they need,” says Aditi Ghosh, IPPF’s Global Emergency Response Manager, SPRINT and field coordinator, Nepal Emergency Response.
“At the mobile medical camps, while providing general healthcare and services, we have in just the early days of this crisis evacuated and referred sixteen women in various stages of pregnancy needing emergency obstetric care to different referral sites including the Israeli medical camp,” said Dr. Abhijeet, Pathak, Programme Specialist – Medical and Abortion, IPPF SARO, overseeing the coordination of the mobile medical camps.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake has claimed more than 7,000 lives, and over 14,000 people have been injured, many seriously. The impending monsoon is compounding fears of further devastation among the affected population. The need for crucial lifesaving medical care, including sexual and reproductive health and services, will continue well into the future. Specialised healthcare needs of pregnant women and lactating mothers, provision for safe delivery, protecting girls from unintended pregnancies, and menstrual hygiene for young girls remain serious issues that the UNFPA-IPPF/FPAN partnership will continue to address.
“So many parts of the country are devastated and it’s encouraging to see that the affected communities themselves want to participate in the response – we must engage women, girls and young people in the services we’re providing”, said Priya Marwah, Humanitarian Response Coordinator from UNFPA’s Asia Pacific Regional Office.
More than a third of maternal deaths worldwide occur in crisis settings due to lack of access to basic emergency-obstetric services and availability of skilled service providers. This leads to high maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality which, however, with timely and appropriate interventions such as those provided by UNFPA, IPPF/FPAN and other partners are preventable. UNFPA and IPPF/FPAN pledge to support the Government and people of Nepal now and in the future.