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Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

Humanitarian response team, Fiji.
Story

In pictures: Humanitarian photographers share their experiences of storytelling in the field

IPPF’s localized approach to humanitarian emergencies is led by our Member Associations' response teams and whenever possible, we deploy local photographers.
A humanitarian worker in India
story

| 17 August 2021

In pictures: World Humanitarian Day 2021

This World Humanitarian Day we reflect on the incredible work undertaken by our humanitarian response teams over the last 12 months. Last year, IPPF reached approximately 5.5 million people in humanitarian crises through our local Member Associations. This achievement would not have been possible without the dedicated and heroic healthcare teams providing vital sexual and reproductive healthcare in the most fragile humanitarian settings. COVID-19 response in Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) PNGFHA responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in PNG, supported by the Australian government. With access to emergency healthcare facilities now extremely limited, PNGFHA health workers travel to hard-to-reach areas providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to the most marginalized communities.Clients like Vavine Kila receive a consultation at the PNGFHA mobile clinic. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email The humanitarian response teams taking healthcare into people's homes in Gaza Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) On 10 May 2021, Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, killing over 220 people (including women and children) and leaving over 75,000 displaced. At the time, an estimated 87,000 women in the Gaza Strip and nearby areas were pregnant. The PFPPA humanitarian response team visited families in their homes, with each household expected to have four to five women of reproductive age needing healthcare. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Offering holistic care to families in Gaza Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) Children account for close to 50% of the population in Gaza. As part of the response, PFPPA youth volunteers entertained the children while their family members received life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare and psychosocial support by the humanitarian response teams in privacy. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Ensuring ante- and post-natal care in the aftermath of an earthquake in West Sulawesi Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) On 15 January 2021, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the West Sulawesi province in Indonesia leaving over 15,000 displaced, including many pregnant people and nursing mothers.As part of its response efforts, the IPPA set up mobile clinics near the shelters to provide vital ante- and post-natal care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email A super cyclone and a pandemic Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) On 20 May 2020, severe Cyclone Amphan hit the Indian state of West Bengal, affecting millions of people in and around the state capital Kolkata. Emergency crises during the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the impact of the disaster and puts a strain on health systems and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.FPAI responded by providing emergency sexual and reproductive healthcare to affected communities, particularly focusing on the most marginalized and vulnerable people including the LGBTI community, sex workers, pregnant women, and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Providing healthcare to hardest hit communities after Cyclone Yasa The Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF) In mid-December 2020, a category 5 severe Tropical Cyclone Yasa hit the island of Fiji and neighbouring Lau group of Islands. IPPF’s Member Association, RFHAF, was supported by the Australian government to provide life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare in the hardest hit communities, including counselling on STI risk reduction, first-line support for survivors of SGBV, and contraceptive and ante-natal care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

A humanitarian worker in India
story

| 24 May 2022

In pictures: World Humanitarian Day 2021

This World Humanitarian Day we reflect on the incredible work undertaken by our humanitarian response teams over the last 12 months. Last year, IPPF reached approximately 5.5 million people in humanitarian crises through our local Member Associations. This achievement would not have been possible without the dedicated and heroic healthcare teams providing vital sexual and reproductive healthcare in the most fragile humanitarian settings. COVID-19 response in Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) PNGFHA responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in PNG, supported by the Australian government. With access to emergency healthcare facilities now extremely limited, PNGFHA health workers travel to hard-to-reach areas providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to the most marginalized communities.Clients like Vavine Kila receive a consultation at the PNGFHA mobile clinic. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email The humanitarian response teams taking healthcare into people's homes in Gaza Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) On 10 May 2021, Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, killing over 220 people (including women and children) and leaving over 75,000 displaced. At the time, an estimated 87,000 women in the Gaza Strip and nearby areas were pregnant. The PFPPA humanitarian response team visited families in their homes, with each household expected to have four to five women of reproductive age needing healthcare. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Offering holistic care to families in Gaza Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) Children account for close to 50% of the population in Gaza. As part of the response, PFPPA youth volunteers entertained the children while their family members received life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare and psychosocial support by the humanitarian response teams in privacy. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Ensuring ante- and post-natal care in the aftermath of an earthquake in West Sulawesi Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) On 15 January 2021, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the West Sulawesi province in Indonesia leaving over 15,000 displaced, including many pregnant people and nursing mothers.As part of its response efforts, the IPPA set up mobile clinics near the shelters to provide vital ante- and post-natal care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email A super cyclone and a pandemic Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) On 20 May 2020, severe Cyclone Amphan hit the Indian state of West Bengal, affecting millions of people in and around the state capital Kolkata. Emergency crises during the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the impact of the disaster and puts a strain on health systems and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.FPAI responded by providing emergency sexual and reproductive healthcare to affected communities, particularly focusing on the most marginalized and vulnerable people including the LGBTI community, sex workers, pregnant women, and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Providing healthcare to hardest hit communities after Cyclone Yasa The Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF) In mid-December 2020, a category 5 severe Tropical Cyclone Yasa hit the island of Fiji and neighbouring Lau group of Islands. IPPF’s Member Association, RFHAF, was supported by the Australian government to provide life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare in the hardest hit communities, including counselling on STI risk reduction, first-line support for survivors of SGBV, and contraceptive and ante-natal care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

A photo of Dr Ratni - she is smiling in front of a clinic
story

| 13 May 2021

Dr Ratni: a day in the life of an emergency response volunteer

Dr Ratni Palullungan is a fearless doctor, mother, and selfless volunteer providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups in fragile humanitarian settings.  Currently she is deployed with the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association’s (IPPA/PKBI) response team in Majene District, West Sulawesi, following a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which occurred in January 2021.   In an open diary, Dr Ratni shares what a day in the life looks like for a volunteer doctor providing care to those affected by the earthquake.   5.30 – 8.30am I get up quite early and have my quiet time (prayer), then I gather my dirty laundry. Currently, I live with other volunteer teams in a place called PKBI Post in Majene, and there is a cooking schedule for everyone. After prayers, chores and breakfast, I get my daughter ready for the day as she accompanies me to work temporarily. After that, the team and I prepare medical equipment and medicine for the day's humanitarian mission. 8.30 – 11am Today the first location is Maliaya Village Health Centre, in Malunda District, Majene. Here, I attend to and examine 25 pregnant women. The pregnant women, on average, get married at a fairly young age. There are definitely risks to their reproductive health. There is a 43-year-old mother who is currently pregnant with her 11th child. To limit health risks, we advise her on the various safe family planning options.   There is also a 38-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant. However, the size of her belly is very small for a woman in her third trimester. In fact, I initially thought that she was only four or five months pregnant. After I examined her, it turns out that she is categorized as a ‘malnourished’ pregnant woman. It is very unfortunate because she admitted that she eats food without paying attention to her nutrition intake. In fact, she tends to eat instant noodles. So I advised her to drink milk, eat only nutritious foods, and always taker her vitamins.  11am – 2pm After visiting Maliaya Village, I travelled to Kabiraan Village. This village was severely affected by the earthquake. Here, I walk around the evacuation camp, most of which is still occupied by displaced people in this post-earthquake period. Even under the evacuation tent, I continue to conduct health examinations for pregnant women.  Due to the large number of cases of young marriages in Kabiiran Village, the team and I decide to conduct counselling sessions for the teenagers here. I advise the teenagers to get to know the risks that might occur to their reproductive health if they marry too young.  2 – 4pm The health volunteer team and I are finally able to take the time for lunch. We have our lunch near the beach, and get to enjoy local seafood as our menu. Enjoying the seafood while looking at the beautiful sea view is a precious time. I certainly won't forget this moment. 4 – 6pm We continue our journey to East Lombong Village. We have many elderly patients here. Yet interestingly, during one of the patients’ examination, there is one mother who wants to get the contraceptive implant. For me, this is quite a shock, given that we rarely find women in this village who want to do family planning. The mother admitted that she did not know much about the family planning program and has many children. She is grateful that the PKBI volunteer team and I came to their shelter camp for the health examination. 6pm The team and I decide to return to the PKBI Post. Today’s journey is quite tiring but there is a sense of pride and emotion for having carried out a humanitarian mission for teenage girls, mothers, the elderly and even toddlers who still stay in the shelter camp. 7 – 8pm At the PKBI Post, after cleaning and tidying up the medical equipment again for the next day’s program, I  prepare dinner for the team and assist my child with her studies. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am involved in this program. I feel encouraged to continue to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups

A photo of Dr Ratni - she is smiling in front of a clinic
story

| 24 May 2022

Dr Ratni: a day in the life of an emergency response volunteer

Dr Ratni Palullungan is a fearless doctor, mother, and selfless volunteer providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups in fragile humanitarian settings.  Currently she is deployed with the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association’s (IPPA/PKBI) response team in Majene District, West Sulawesi, following a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which occurred in January 2021.   In an open diary, Dr Ratni shares what a day in the life looks like for a volunteer doctor providing care to those affected by the earthquake.   5.30 – 8.30am I get up quite early and have my quiet time (prayer), then I gather my dirty laundry. Currently, I live with other volunteer teams in a place called PKBI Post in Majene, and there is a cooking schedule for everyone. After prayers, chores and breakfast, I get my daughter ready for the day as she accompanies me to work temporarily. After that, the team and I prepare medical equipment and medicine for the day's humanitarian mission. 8.30 – 11am Today the first location is Maliaya Village Health Centre, in Malunda District, Majene. Here, I attend to and examine 25 pregnant women. The pregnant women, on average, get married at a fairly young age. There are definitely risks to their reproductive health. There is a 43-year-old mother who is currently pregnant with her 11th child. To limit health risks, we advise her on the various safe family planning options.   There is also a 38-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant. However, the size of her belly is very small for a woman in her third trimester. In fact, I initially thought that she was only four or five months pregnant. After I examined her, it turns out that she is categorized as a ‘malnourished’ pregnant woman. It is very unfortunate because she admitted that she eats food without paying attention to her nutrition intake. In fact, she tends to eat instant noodles. So I advised her to drink milk, eat only nutritious foods, and always taker her vitamins.  11am – 2pm After visiting Maliaya Village, I travelled to Kabiraan Village. This village was severely affected by the earthquake. Here, I walk around the evacuation camp, most of which is still occupied by displaced people in this post-earthquake period. Even under the evacuation tent, I continue to conduct health examinations for pregnant women.  Due to the large number of cases of young marriages in Kabiiran Village, the team and I decide to conduct counselling sessions for the teenagers here. I advise the teenagers to get to know the risks that might occur to their reproductive health if they marry too young.  2 – 4pm The health volunteer team and I are finally able to take the time for lunch. We have our lunch near the beach, and get to enjoy local seafood as our menu. Enjoying the seafood while looking at the beautiful sea view is a precious time. I certainly won't forget this moment. 4 – 6pm We continue our journey to East Lombong Village. We have many elderly patients here. Yet interestingly, during one of the patients’ examination, there is one mother who wants to get the contraceptive implant. For me, this is quite a shock, given that we rarely find women in this village who want to do family planning. The mother admitted that she did not know much about the family planning program and has many children. She is grateful that the PKBI volunteer team and I came to their shelter camp for the health examination. 6pm The team and I decide to return to the PKBI Post. Today’s journey is quite tiring but there is a sense of pride and emotion for having carried out a humanitarian mission for teenage girls, mothers, the elderly and even toddlers who still stay in the shelter camp. 7 – 8pm At the PKBI Post, after cleaning and tidying up the medical equipment again for the next day’s program, I  prepare dinner for the team and assist my child with her studies. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am involved in this program. I feel encouraged to continue to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups

A photo of Dr Ratni - she is smiling in front of a clinic
story

| 13 May 2021

Dr Ratni: a day in the life of an emergency response volunteer

Dr Ratni Palullungan is a fearless doctor, mother, and selfless volunteer providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups in fragile humanitarian settings.  Currently she is deployed with the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association’s (IPPA/PKBI) response team in Majene District, West Sulawesi, following a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which occurred in January 2021.   In an open diary, Dr Ratni shares what a day in the life looks like for a volunteer doctor providing care to those affected by the earthquake.   5.30 – 8.30am I get up quite early and have my quiet time (prayer), then I gather my dirty laundry. Currently, I live with other volunteer teams in a place called PKBI Post in Majene, and there is a cooking schedule for everyone. After prayers, chores and breakfast, I get my daughter ready for the day as she accompanies me to work temporarily. After that, the team and I prepare medical equipment and medicine for the day's humanitarian mission. 8.30 – 11am Today the first location is Maliaya Village Health Centre, in Malunda District, Majene. Here, I attend to and examine 25 pregnant women. The pregnant women, on average, get married at a fairly young age. There are definitely risks to their reproductive health. There is a 43-year-old mother who is currently pregnant with her 11th child. To limit health risks, we advise her on the various safe family planning options.   There is also a 38-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant. However, the size of her belly is very small for a woman in her third trimester. In fact, I initially thought that she was only four or five months pregnant. After I examined her, it turns out that she is categorized as a ‘malnourished’ pregnant woman. It is very unfortunate because she admitted that she eats food without paying attention to her nutrition intake. In fact, she tends to eat instant noodles. So I advised her to drink milk, eat only nutritious foods, and always taker her vitamins.  11am – 2pm After visiting Maliaya Village, I travelled to Kabiraan Village. This village was severely affected by the earthquake. Here, I walk around the evacuation camp, most of which is still occupied by displaced people in this post-earthquake period. Even under the evacuation tent, I continue to conduct health examinations for pregnant women.  Due to the large number of cases of young marriages in Kabiiran Village, the team and I decide to conduct counselling sessions for the teenagers here. I advise the teenagers to get to know the risks that might occur to their reproductive health if they marry too young.  2 – 4pm The health volunteer team and I are finally able to take the time for lunch. We have our lunch near the beach, and get to enjoy local seafood as our menu. Enjoying the seafood while looking at the beautiful sea view is a precious time. I certainly won't forget this moment. 4 – 6pm We continue our journey to East Lombong Village. We have many elderly patients here. Yet interestingly, during one of the patients’ examination, there is one mother who wants to get the contraceptive implant. For me, this is quite a shock, given that we rarely find women in this village who want to do family planning. The mother admitted that she did not know much about the family planning program and has many children. She is grateful that the PKBI volunteer team and I came to their shelter camp for the health examination. 6pm The team and I decide to return to the PKBI Post. Today’s journey is quite tiring but there is a sense of pride and emotion for having carried out a humanitarian mission for teenage girls, mothers, the elderly and even toddlers who still stay in the shelter camp. 7 – 8pm At the PKBI Post, after cleaning and tidying up the medical equipment again for the next day’s program, I  prepare dinner for the team and assist my child with her studies. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am involved in this program. I feel encouraged to continue to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups

A photo of Dr Ratni - she is smiling in front of a clinic
story

| 24 May 2022

Dr Ratni: a day in the life of an emergency response volunteer

Dr Ratni Palullungan is a fearless doctor, mother, and selfless volunteer providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups in fragile humanitarian settings.  Currently she is deployed with the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association’s (IPPA/PKBI) response team in Majene District, West Sulawesi, following a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which occurred in January 2021.   In an open diary, Dr Ratni shares what a day in the life looks like for a volunteer doctor providing care to those affected by the earthquake.   5.30 – 8.30am I get up quite early and have my quiet time (prayer), then I gather my dirty laundry. Currently, I live with other volunteer teams in a place called PKBI Post in Majene, and there is a cooking schedule for everyone. After prayers, chores and breakfast, I get my daughter ready for the day as she accompanies me to work temporarily. After that, the team and I prepare medical equipment and medicine for the day's humanitarian mission. 8.30 – 11am Today the first location is Maliaya Village Health Centre, in Malunda District, Majene. Here, I attend to and examine 25 pregnant women. The pregnant women, on average, get married at a fairly young age. There are definitely risks to their reproductive health. There is a 43-year-old mother who is currently pregnant with her 11th child. To limit health risks, we advise her on the various safe family planning options.   There is also a 38-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant. However, the size of her belly is very small for a woman in her third trimester. In fact, I initially thought that she was only four or five months pregnant. After I examined her, it turns out that she is categorized as a ‘malnourished’ pregnant woman. It is very unfortunate because she admitted that she eats food without paying attention to her nutrition intake. In fact, she tends to eat instant noodles. So I advised her to drink milk, eat only nutritious foods, and always taker her vitamins.  11am – 2pm After visiting Maliaya Village, I travelled to Kabiraan Village. This village was severely affected by the earthquake. Here, I walk around the evacuation camp, most of which is still occupied by displaced people in this post-earthquake period. Even under the evacuation tent, I continue to conduct health examinations for pregnant women.  Due to the large number of cases of young marriages in Kabiiran Village, the team and I decide to conduct counselling sessions for the teenagers here. I advise the teenagers to get to know the risks that might occur to their reproductive health if they marry too young.  2 – 4pm The health volunteer team and I are finally able to take the time for lunch. We have our lunch near the beach, and get to enjoy local seafood as our menu. Enjoying the seafood while looking at the beautiful sea view is a precious time. I certainly won't forget this moment. 4 – 6pm We continue our journey to East Lombong Village. We have many elderly patients here. Yet interestingly, during one of the patients’ examination, there is one mother who wants to get the contraceptive implant. For me, this is quite a shock, given that we rarely find women in this village who want to do family planning. The mother admitted that she did not know much about the family planning program and has many children. She is grateful that the PKBI volunteer team and I came to their shelter camp for the health examination. 6pm The team and I decide to return to the PKBI Post. Today’s journey is quite tiring but there is a sense of pride and emotion for having carried out a humanitarian mission for teenage girls, mothers, the elderly and even toddlers who still stay in the shelter camp. 7 – 8pm At the PKBI Post, after cleaning and tidying up the medical equipment again for the next day’s program, I  prepare dinner for the team and assist my child with her studies. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am involved in this program. I feel encouraged to continue to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 08 January 2021

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 24 May 2022

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Woman smiling.
story

| 13 August 2020

In pictures: Delivering healthcare to remote communities in Fiji

In early April 2020, the all too familiar destruction of a Tropical Cyclone (TC) – Harold – hit the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga. One of the worst affected areas was the Eastern part of Fiji. Through support by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our Member Association, Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF), was quick to respond ensuring access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare for Kadavu’s women, girls, and vulnerable groups. Fiji's vulnerable coastline Fiji’s worst affected area was the Eastern part, with TC Harold bringing destructive storm force winds and storm surge. RFHAF focused its humanitarian response on the local Kadavu population. This remote area proves a challenge to reach for the team with supplies. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email RFHAF's humanitarian response team tackle rough terrain National travel restrictions - due to the current COVID-19 pandemic - on all inter island transfers has slowed the response in some areas, including Kadavu. The island of Kadavu is one of the least developed areas of Fiji, the main source of income is substance living (Yaqona). Transport around the island is difficult, with very few roads, no public water system or electricity. The humanitarian team from RFHAF travels by boat and then on foot. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Asenaca, client Kadavu, the biggest island in the Eastern division has the greatest population (10,897). 197 evacuation centres were activated in total, initially hosting over 6,240 people. Many are women of reproductive age, with an estimated 150 currently pregnant. Asenaca learns about breast cancer self-checks from RFHAF’s healthcare provider, Karo. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nasi, RFHAF healthcare provider The medical mobile team deliver a broad range of healthcare including contraception, information and counselling on sexual health, pregnancy, HIV and STI care and testing. RFHAF Team in Kadavu performing general health checks after TC Harold. Nasi administers a HPV shot to a client. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kate, client Young women and girls are at the heart of RFHAF’s healthcare provision. Kate walks home with her dignity kit after a health check at the mobile clinic. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Karo, RFHAF healthcare worker RFHAF offers sexual and reproductive healthcare as well as counselling, and referrals for follow up care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Alidi, RFHAF healthcare worker The team ensures young people in the community are not forgotten and provide information and education on relationships and sexual health and rights. Alidi conducting a session with a local group of young people at Gasele, Kadavu.Photos ©IPPF/Rob Rickman/Fiji Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Woman smiling.
story

| 24 May 2022

In pictures: Delivering healthcare to remote communities in Fiji

In early April 2020, the all too familiar destruction of a Tropical Cyclone (TC) – Harold – hit the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga. One of the worst affected areas was the Eastern part of Fiji. Through support by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our Member Association, Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF), was quick to respond ensuring access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare for Kadavu’s women, girls, and vulnerable groups. Fiji's vulnerable coastline Fiji’s worst affected area was the Eastern part, with TC Harold bringing destructive storm force winds and storm surge. RFHAF focused its humanitarian response on the local Kadavu population. This remote area proves a challenge to reach for the team with supplies. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email RFHAF's humanitarian response team tackle rough terrain National travel restrictions - due to the current COVID-19 pandemic - on all inter island transfers has slowed the response in some areas, including Kadavu. The island of Kadavu is one of the least developed areas of Fiji, the main source of income is substance living (Yaqona). Transport around the island is difficult, with very few roads, no public water system or electricity. The humanitarian team from RFHAF travels by boat and then on foot. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Asenaca, client Kadavu, the biggest island in the Eastern division has the greatest population (10,897). 197 evacuation centres were activated in total, initially hosting over 6,240 people. Many are women of reproductive age, with an estimated 150 currently pregnant. Asenaca learns about breast cancer self-checks from RFHAF’s healthcare provider, Karo. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nasi, RFHAF healthcare provider The medical mobile team deliver a broad range of healthcare including contraception, information and counselling on sexual health, pregnancy, HIV and STI care and testing. RFHAF Team in Kadavu performing general health checks after TC Harold. Nasi administers a HPV shot to a client. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kate, client Young women and girls are at the heart of RFHAF’s healthcare provision. Kate walks home with her dignity kit after a health check at the mobile clinic. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Karo, RFHAF healthcare worker RFHAF offers sexual and reproductive healthcare as well as counselling, and referrals for follow up care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Alidi, RFHAF healthcare worker The team ensures young people in the community are not forgotten and provide information and education on relationships and sexual health and rights. Alidi conducting a session with a local group of young people at Gasele, Kadavu.Photos ©IPPF/Rob Rickman/Fiji Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Mother and child.
story

| 18 June 2020

In pictures: Healthcare in the face of the climate crisis in Kiribati

Humanitarian crises Largely brought on by sudden onset and slow-onset natural disasters, humanitarian crises are increasingly prevalent in the Pacific. During responses to humanitarian crises in the Pacific, sexual and reproductive healthcare is often under-prioritised and under-resourced. As a result, women and girls of reproductive age and vulnerable and marginalized groups are disproportionately affected and facing increased health and psychosocial risks. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Fragile environments Low topography, rising sea levels and insufficient fresh water supply leaves Kiribati’s population vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. The fragility of the outer islands of Kiribati during natural disasters is compounded by their geographic isolation, which makes transportation and communication during post-disaster relief and response both expensive and difficult. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Coastal exposure The majority of the population of 115,000 people live a subsistence lifestyle. Communities are geographically dispersed across 33 atolls covering 3.5 million square kilometres in the central Pacific Ocean. The population and infrastructure within Kiribati are largely concentrated on the coast, where communities face increased exposure to climate threats and natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, king tides, flooding, droughts, and occasionally cyclones. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Takaria, leader and youth organizer in the Tebikenikua community Takaria will be running to be a Member of Parliament in Kiribati in 2020. “I assist the youth with family problems and family planning and disasters. In our community there are unforeseen pregnancies, domestic violence, and disasters such as high tide waters and strong winds, which can also affect this community. The Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) is the key point for us with outreach and training so people in this community know how to prevent and treat STIs, etc. They all know where the KFHA clinic is and that they can get counselling or services there. The problem now is you can’t survive with the sea rise levels. I want all members of my community to live better and have better health and peace.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Susan*, sex worker Susan receives care at the Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) including a pap smear. Susan*, 28, is a sex worker from the town of Betio on the main island of Kiribati. Originally from an outlying island, she moved into Tarawa to seek work. Unable to find employment that would fulfill her dream of sending money back to her two children, she was introduced to sex work. With other sex workers, she regularly travels out to the large cargo ships from China, Philippines and Korea anchored off the coast of Kiribati. Despite her new income, she still can’t speak with her children or see them due to the restrictive costs involved of travel between islands.*pseudonym Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Theta, 25-year-old mother and youth volunteer Theta is part of the Humanitarian Youth Club set up by the Kiribati Family Health Association in her village. “We face a lot of situations here, one of them is disasters and the second is unemployment and school drop out with our youth. I have helped the Humanitarian Youth Club to apply for financial grants from the Australian High Commission [for $1,000] I am recognized as the smartest member who can write in English. We have learned how to design a disaster plan for the community and share our ideas on sexual and reproductive issues such as STIs. We discuss what we can do for the next strong tide, where we can gather as a community and what we can do if even the maneabe (town hall) floods? If the tide and wind is too strong, we need to go to another safer place, such as another community’s town hall. For now, I want to enjoy the chance to be in our own beloved country. I won’t move until the majority have already left. I want my daughter to grow up in the same place I grew up in.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Beitau, youth volunteer Beitau is the Chairperson of the Humanitarian Youth Club. “I was lucky to be selected as Chairperson as the Humanitarian Youth Club. I feel like I get more respect from the community now I am in this position. I would love advanced training on leadership now, to further assist the club. As I am the Chairperson of the HYC, my main target is to help people during a disaster. I have attended training through KFHA. What I took from this is that when a disaster strikes, we have to do our best for pregnant women, small children and people with disabilities. They more vulnerable and less able to survive a disaster.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Abe, youth officer Abe was involved with KFHA since 2012. “I was inspired by what they KFHA was doing and the issues they were addressing that affects youth. I was surprised to see how many young people come to the clinic as they are affected by STIs, HIV and teenage pregnancy. The lack of education here is a big problem, most people here have a lot of children and yet can’t afford to send them to school. Sexual and reproductive health is our responsibility and we must talk about it with young people. Climate change affects many countries, but Kiribati is small and low lying. I used to go visit a very nice beach with a lot of nice trees and plants. Now, the trees are gone, and the waves have taken over, and the houses have disappeared so no one can build there. In my role as a youth worker and activist, I tell people to fight climate change: to grow more mangroves, to clean up the beach, because we love our Kiribati.”©IPPF/Hannah Maule-Ffinch/Kiribati Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Mother and child.
story

| 24 May 2022

In pictures: Healthcare in the face of the climate crisis in Kiribati

Humanitarian crises Largely brought on by sudden onset and slow-onset natural disasters, humanitarian crises are increasingly prevalent in the Pacific. During responses to humanitarian crises in the Pacific, sexual and reproductive healthcare is often under-prioritised and under-resourced. As a result, women and girls of reproductive age and vulnerable and marginalized groups are disproportionately affected and facing increased health and psychosocial risks. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Fragile environments Low topography, rising sea levels and insufficient fresh water supply leaves Kiribati’s population vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. The fragility of the outer islands of Kiribati during natural disasters is compounded by their geographic isolation, which makes transportation and communication during post-disaster relief and response both expensive and difficult. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Coastal exposure The majority of the population of 115,000 people live a subsistence lifestyle. Communities are geographically dispersed across 33 atolls covering 3.5 million square kilometres in the central Pacific Ocean. The population and infrastructure within Kiribati are largely concentrated on the coast, where communities face increased exposure to climate threats and natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, king tides, flooding, droughts, and occasionally cyclones. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Takaria, leader and youth organizer in the Tebikenikua community Takaria will be running to be a Member of Parliament in Kiribati in 2020. “I assist the youth with family problems and family planning and disasters. In our community there are unforeseen pregnancies, domestic violence, and disasters such as high tide waters and strong winds, which can also affect this community. The Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) is the key point for us with outreach and training so people in this community know how to prevent and treat STIs, etc. They all know where the KFHA clinic is and that they can get counselling or services there. The problem now is you can’t survive with the sea rise levels. I want all members of my community to live better and have better health and peace.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Susan*, sex worker Susan receives care at the Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) including a pap smear. Susan*, 28, is a sex worker from the town of Betio on the main island of Kiribati. Originally from an outlying island, she moved into Tarawa to seek work. Unable to find employment that would fulfill her dream of sending money back to her two children, she was introduced to sex work. With other sex workers, she regularly travels out to the large cargo ships from China, Philippines and Korea anchored off the coast of Kiribati. Despite her new income, she still can’t speak with her children or see them due to the restrictive costs involved of travel between islands.*pseudonym Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Theta, 25-year-old mother and youth volunteer Theta is part of the Humanitarian Youth Club set up by the Kiribati Family Health Association in her village. “We face a lot of situations here, one of them is disasters and the second is unemployment and school drop out with our youth. I have helped the Humanitarian Youth Club to apply for financial grants from the Australian High Commission [for $1,000] I am recognized as the smartest member who can write in English. We have learned how to design a disaster plan for the community and share our ideas on sexual and reproductive issues such as STIs. We discuss what we can do for the next strong tide, where we can gather as a community and what we can do if even the maneabe (town hall) floods? If the tide and wind is too strong, we need to go to another safer place, such as another community’s town hall. For now, I want to enjoy the chance to be in our own beloved country. I won’t move until the majority have already left. I want my daughter to grow up in the same place I grew up in.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Beitau, youth volunteer Beitau is the Chairperson of the Humanitarian Youth Club. “I was lucky to be selected as Chairperson as the Humanitarian Youth Club. I feel like I get more respect from the community now I am in this position. I would love advanced training on leadership now, to further assist the club. As I am the Chairperson of the HYC, my main target is to help people during a disaster. I have attended training through KFHA. What I took from this is that when a disaster strikes, we have to do our best for pregnant women, small children and people with disabilities. They more vulnerable and less able to survive a disaster.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Abe, youth officer Abe was involved with KFHA since 2012. “I was inspired by what they KFHA was doing and the issues they were addressing that affects youth. I was surprised to see how many young people come to the clinic as they are affected by STIs, HIV and teenage pregnancy. The lack of education here is a big problem, most people here have a lot of children and yet can’t afford to send them to school. Sexual and reproductive health is our responsibility and we must talk about it with young people. Climate change affects many countries, but Kiribati is small and low lying. I used to go visit a very nice beach with a lot of nice trees and plants. Now, the trees are gone, and the waves have taken over, and the houses have disappeared so no one can build there. In my role as a youth worker and activist, I tell people to fight climate change: to grow more mangroves, to clean up the beach, because we love our Kiribati.”©IPPF/Hannah Maule-Ffinch/Kiribati Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

A humanitarian worker in India
story

| 17 August 2021

In pictures: World Humanitarian Day 2021

This World Humanitarian Day we reflect on the incredible work undertaken by our humanitarian response teams over the last 12 months. Last year, IPPF reached approximately 5.5 million people in humanitarian crises through our local Member Associations. This achievement would not have been possible without the dedicated and heroic healthcare teams providing vital sexual and reproductive healthcare in the most fragile humanitarian settings. COVID-19 response in Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) PNGFHA responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in PNG, supported by the Australian government. With access to emergency healthcare facilities now extremely limited, PNGFHA health workers travel to hard-to-reach areas providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to the most marginalized communities.Clients like Vavine Kila receive a consultation at the PNGFHA mobile clinic. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email The humanitarian response teams taking healthcare into people's homes in Gaza Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) On 10 May 2021, Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, killing over 220 people (including women and children) and leaving over 75,000 displaced. At the time, an estimated 87,000 women in the Gaza Strip and nearby areas were pregnant. The PFPPA humanitarian response team visited families in their homes, with each household expected to have four to five women of reproductive age needing healthcare. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Offering holistic care to families in Gaza Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) Children account for close to 50% of the population in Gaza. As part of the response, PFPPA youth volunteers entertained the children while their family members received life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare and psychosocial support by the humanitarian response teams in privacy. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Ensuring ante- and post-natal care in the aftermath of an earthquake in West Sulawesi Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) On 15 January 2021, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the West Sulawesi province in Indonesia leaving over 15,000 displaced, including many pregnant people and nursing mothers.As part of its response efforts, the IPPA set up mobile clinics near the shelters to provide vital ante- and post-natal care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email A super cyclone and a pandemic Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) On 20 May 2020, severe Cyclone Amphan hit the Indian state of West Bengal, affecting millions of people in and around the state capital Kolkata. Emergency crises during the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the impact of the disaster and puts a strain on health systems and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.FPAI responded by providing emergency sexual and reproductive healthcare to affected communities, particularly focusing on the most marginalized and vulnerable people including the LGBTI community, sex workers, pregnant women, and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Providing healthcare to hardest hit communities after Cyclone Yasa The Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF) In mid-December 2020, a category 5 severe Tropical Cyclone Yasa hit the island of Fiji and neighbouring Lau group of Islands. IPPF’s Member Association, RFHAF, was supported by the Australian government to provide life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare in the hardest hit communities, including counselling on STI risk reduction, first-line support for survivors of SGBV, and contraceptive and ante-natal care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

A humanitarian worker in India
story

| 24 May 2022

In pictures: World Humanitarian Day 2021

This World Humanitarian Day we reflect on the incredible work undertaken by our humanitarian response teams over the last 12 months. Last year, IPPF reached approximately 5.5 million people in humanitarian crises through our local Member Associations. This achievement would not have been possible without the dedicated and heroic healthcare teams providing vital sexual and reproductive healthcare in the most fragile humanitarian settings. COVID-19 response in Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) PNGFHA responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in PNG, supported by the Australian government. With access to emergency healthcare facilities now extremely limited, PNGFHA health workers travel to hard-to-reach areas providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to the most marginalized communities.Clients like Vavine Kila receive a consultation at the PNGFHA mobile clinic. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email The humanitarian response teams taking healthcare into people's homes in Gaza Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) On 10 May 2021, Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, killing over 220 people (including women and children) and leaving over 75,000 displaced. At the time, an estimated 87,000 women in the Gaza Strip and nearby areas were pregnant. The PFPPA humanitarian response team visited families in their homes, with each household expected to have four to five women of reproductive age needing healthcare. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Offering holistic care to families in Gaza Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) Children account for close to 50% of the population in Gaza. As part of the response, PFPPA youth volunteers entertained the children while their family members received life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare and psychosocial support by the humanitarian response teams in privacy. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Ensuring ante- and post-natal care in the aftermath of an earthquake in West Sulawesi Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) On 15 January 2021, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the West Sulawesi province in Indonesia leaving over 15,000 displaced, including many pregnant people and nursing mothers.As part of its response efforts, the IPPA set up mobile clinics near the shelters to provide vital ante- and post-natal care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email A super cyclone and a pandemic Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) On 20 May 2020, severe Cyclone Amphan hit the Indian state of West Bengal, affecting millions of people in and around the state capital Kolkata. Emergency crises during the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the impact of the disaster and puts a strain on health systems and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.FPAI responded by providing emergency sexual and reproductive healthcare to affected communities, particularly focusing on the most marginalized and vulnerable people including the LGBTI community, sex workers, pregnant women, and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Providing healthcare to hardest hit communities after Cyclone Yasa The Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF) In mid-December 2020, a category 5 severe Tropical Cyclone Yasa hit the island of Fiji and neighbouring Lau group of Islands. IPPF’s Member Association, RFHAF, was supported by the Australian government to provide life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare in the hardest hit communities, including counselling on STI risk reduction, first-line support for survivors of SGBV, and contraceptive and ante-natal care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

A photo of Dr Ratni - she is smiling in front of a clinic
story

| 13 May 2021

Dr Ratni: a day in the life of an emergency response volunteer

Dr Ratni Palullungan is a fearless doctor, mother, and selfless volunteer providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups in fragile humanitarian settings.  Currently she is deployed with the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association’s (IPPA/PKBI) response team in Majene District, West Sulawesi, following a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which occurred in January 2021.   In an open diary, Dr Ratni shares what a day in the life looks like for a volunteer doctor providing care to those affected by the earthquake.   5.30 – 8.30am I get up quite early and have my quiet time (prayer), then I gather my dirty laundry. Currently, I live with other volunteer teams in a place called PKBI Post in Majene, and there is a cooking schedule for everyone. After prayers, chores and breakfast, I get my daughter ready for the day as she accompanies me to work temporarily. After that, the team and I prepare medical equipment and medicine for the day's humanitarian mission. 8.30 – 11am Today the first location is Maliaya Village Health Centre, in Malunda District, Majene. Here, I attend to and examine 25 pregnant women. The pregnant women, on average, get married at a fairly young age. There are definitely risks to their reproductive health. There is a 43-year-old mother who is currently pregnant with her 11th child. To limit health risks, we advise her on the various safe family planning options.   There is also a 38-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant. However, the size of her belly is very small for a woman in her third trimester. In fact, I initially thought that she was only four or five months pregnant. After I examined her, it turns out that she is categorized as a ‘malnourished’ pregnant woman. It is very unfortunate because she admitted that she eats food without paying attention to her nutrition intake. In fact, she tends to eat instant noodles. So I advised her to drink milk, eat only nutritious foods, and always taker her vitamins.  11am – 2pm After visiting Maliaya Village, I travelled to Kabiraan Village. This village was severely affected by the earthquake. Here, I walk around the evacuation camp, most of which is still occupied by displaced people in this post-earthquake period. Even under the evacuation tent, I continue to conduct health examinations for pregnant women.  Due to the large number of cases of young marriages in Kabiiran Village, the team and I decide to conduct counselling sessions for the teenagers here. I advise the teenagers to get to know the risks that might occur to their reproductive health if they marry too young.  2 – 4pm The health volunteer team and I are finally able to take the time for lunch. We have our lunch near the beach, and get to enjoy local seafood as our menu. Enjoying the seafood while looking at the beautiful sea view is a precious time. I certainly won't forget this moment. 4 – 6pm We continue our journey to East Lombong Village. We have many elderly patients here. Yet interestingly, during one of the patients’ examination, there is one mother who wants to get the contraceptive implant. For me, this is quite a shock, given that we rarely find women in this village who want to do family planning. The mother admitted that she did not know much about the family planning program and has many children. She is grateful that the PKBI volunteer team and I came to their shelter camp for the health examination. 6pm The team and I decide to return to the PKBI Post. Today’s journey is quite tiring but there is a sense of pride and emotion for having carried out a humanitarian mission for teenage girls, mothers, the elderly and even toddlers who still stay in the shelter camp. 7 – 8pm At the PKBI Post, after cleaning and tidying up the medical equipment again for the next day’s program, I  prepare dinner for the team and assist my child with her studies. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am involved in this program. I feel encouraged to continue to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups

A photo of Dr Ratni - she is smiling in front of a clinic
story

| 24 May 2022

Dr Ratni: a day in the life of an emergency response volunteer

Dr Ratni Palullungan is a fearless doctor, mother, and selfless volunteer providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups in fragile humanitarian settings.  Currently she is deployed with the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association’s (IPPA/PKBI) response team in Majene District, West Sulawesi, following a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which occurred in January 2021.   In an open diary, Dr Ratni shares what a day in the life looks like for a volunteer doctor providing care to those affected by the earthquake.   5.30 – 8.30am I get up quite early and have my quiet time (prayer), then I gather my dirty laundry. Currently, I live with other volunteer teams in a place called PKBI Post in Majene, and there is a cooking schedule for everyone. After prayers, chores and breakfast, I get my daughter ready for the day as she accompanies me to work temporarily. After that, the team and I prepare medical equipment and medicine for the day's humanitarian mission. 8.30 – 11am Today the first location is Maliaya Village Health Centre, in Malunda District, Majene. Here, I attend to and examine 25 pregnant women. The pregnant women, on average, get married at a fairly young age. There are definitely risks to their reproductive health. There is a 43-year-old mother who is currently pregnant with her 11th child. To limit health risks, we advise her on the various safe family planning options.   There is also a 38-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant. However, the size of her belly is very small for a woman in her third trimester. In fact, I initially thought that she was only four or five months pregnant. After I examined her, it turns out that she is categorized as a ‘malnourished’ pregnant woman. It is very unfortunate because she admitted that she eats food without paying attention to her nutrition intake. In fact, she tends to eat instant noodles. So I advised her to drink milk, eat only nutritious foods, and always taker her vitamins.  11am – 2pm After visiting Maliaya Village, I travelled to Kabiraan Village. This village was severely affected by the earthquake. Here, I walk around the evacuation camp, most of which is still occupied by displaced people in this post-earthquake period. Even under the evacuation tent, I continue to conduct health examinations for pregnant women.  Due to the large number of cases of young marriages in Kabiiran Village, the team and I decide to conduct counselling sessions for the teenagers here. I advise the teenagers to get to know the risks that might occur to their reproductive health if they marry too young.  2 – 4pm The health volunteer team and I are finally able to take the time for lunch. We have our lunch near the beach, and get to enjoy local seafood as our menu. Enjoying the seafood while looking at the beautiful sea view is a precious time. I certainly won't forget this moment. 4 – 6pm We continue our journey to East Lombong Village. We have many elderly patients here. Yet interestingly, during one of the patients’ examination, there is one mother who wants to get the contraceptive implant. For me, this is quite a shock, given that we rarely find women in this village who want to do family planning. The mother admitted that she did not know much about the family planning program and has many children. She is grateful that the PKBI volunteer team and I came to their shelter camp for the health examination. 6pm The team and I decide to return to the PKBI Post. Today’s journey is quite tiring but there is a sense of pride and emotion for having carried out a humanitarian mission for teenage girls, mothers, the elderly and even toddlers who still stay in the shelter camp. 7 – 8pm At the PKBI Post, after cleaning and tidying up the medical equipment again for the next day’s program, I  prepare dinner for the team and assist my child with her studies. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am involved in this program. I feel encouraged to continue to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups

A photo of Dr Ratni - she is smiling in front of a clinic
story

| 13 May 2021

Dr Ratni: a day in the life of an emergency response volunteer

Dr Ratni Palullungan is a fearless doctor, mother, and selfless volunteer providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups in fragile humanitarian settings.  Currently she is deployed with the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association’s (IPPA/PKBI) response team in Majene District, West Sulawesi, following a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which occurred in January 2021.   In an open diary, Dr Ratni shares what a day in the life looks like for a volunteer doctor providing care to those affected by the earthquake.   5.30 – 8.30am I get up quite early and have my quiet time (prayer), then I gather my dirty laundry. Currently, I live with other volunteer teams in a place called PKBI Post in Majene, and there is a cooking schedule for everyone. After prayers, chores and breakfast, I get my daughter ready for the day as she accompanies me to work temporarily. After that, the team and I prepare medical equipment and medicine for the day's humanitarian mission. 8.30 – 11am Today the first location is Maliaya Village Health Centre, in Malunda District, Majene. Here, I attend to and examine 25 pregnant women. The pregnant women, on average, get married at a fairly young age. There are definitely risks to their reproductive health. There is a 43-year-old mother who is currently pregnant with her 11th child. To limit health risks, we advise her on the various safe family planning options.   There is also a 38-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant. However, the size of her belly is very small for a woman in her third trimester. In fact, I initially thought that she was only four or five months pregnant. After I examined her, it turns out that she is categorized as a ‘malnourished’ pregnant woman. It is very unfortunate because she admitted that she eats food without paying attention to her nutrition intake. In fact, she tends to eat instant noodles. So I advised her to drink milk, eat only nutritious foods, and always taker her vitamins.  11am – 2pm After visiting Maliaya Village, I travelled to Kabiraan Village. This village was severely affected by the earthquake. Here, I walk around the evacuation camp, most of which is still occupied by displaced people in this post-earthquake period. Even under the evacuation tent, I continue to conduct health examinations for pregnant women.  Due to the large number of cases of young marriages in Kabiiran Village, the team and I decide to conduct counselling sessions for the teenagers here. I advise the teenagers to get to know the risks that might occur to their reproductive health if they marry too young.  2 – 4pm The health volunteer team and I are finally able to take the time for lunch. We have our lunch near the beach, and get to enjoy local seafood as our menu. Enjoying the seafood while looking at the beautiful sea view is a precious time. I certainly won't forget this moment. 4 – 6pm We continue our journey to East Lombong Village. We have many elderly patients here. Yet interestingly, during one of the patients’ examination, there is one mother who wants to get the contraceptive implant. For me, this is quite a shock, given that we rarely find women in this village who want to do family planning. The mother admitted that she did not know much about the family planning program and has many children. She is grateful that the PKBI volunteer team and I came to their shelter camp for the health examination. 6pm The team and I decide to return to the PKBI Post. Today’s journey is quite tiring but there is a sense of pride and emotion for having carried out a humanitarian mission for teenage girls, mothers, the elderly and even toddlers who still stay in the shelter camp. 7 – 8pm At the PKBI Post, after cleaning and tidying up the medical equipment again for the next day’s program, I  prepare dinner for the team and assist my child with her studies. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am involved in this program. I feel encouraged to continue to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups

A photo of Dr Ratni - she is smiling in front of a clinic
story

| 24 May 2022

Dr Ratni: a day in the life of an emergency response volunteer

Dr Ratni Palullungan is a fearless doctor, mother, and selfless volunteer providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups in fragile humanitarian settings.  Currently she is deployed with the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association’s (IPPA/PKBI) response team in Majene District, West Sulawesi, following a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which occurred in January 2021.   In an open diary, Dr Ratni shares what a day in the life looks like for a volunteer doctor providing care to those affected by the earthquake.   5.30 – 8.30am I get up quite early and have my quiet time (prayer), then I gather my dirty laundry. Currently, I live with other volunteer teams in a place called PKBI Post in Majene, and there is a cooking schedule for everyone. After prayers, chores and breakfast, I get my daughter ready for the day as she accompanies me to work temporarily. After that, the team and I prepare medical equipment and medicine for the day's humanitarian mission. 8.30 – 11am Today the first location is Maliaya Village Health Centre, in Malunda District, Majene. Here, I attend to and examine 25 pregnant women. The pregnant women, on average, get married at a fairly young age. There are definitely risks to their reproductive health. There is a 43-year-old mother who is currently pregnant with her 11th child. To limit health risks, we advise her on the various safe family planning options.   There is also a 38-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant. However, the size of her belly is very small for a woman in her third trimester. In fact, I initially thought that she was only four or five months pregnant. After I examined her, it turns out that she is categorized as a ‘malnourished’ pregnant woman. It is very unfortunate because she admitted that she eats food without paying attention to her nutrition intake. In fact, she tends to eat instant noodles. So I advised her to drink milk, eat only nutritious foods, and always taker her vitamins.  11am – 2pm After visiting Maliaya Village, I travelled to Kabiraan Village. This village was severely affected by the earthquake. Here, I walk around the evacuation camp, most of which is still occupied by displaced people in this post-earthquake period. Even under the evacuation tent, I continue to conduct health examinations for pregnant women.  Due to the large number of cases of young marriages in Kabiiran Village, the team and I decide to conduct counselling sessions for the teenagers here. I advise the teenagers to get to know the risks that might occur to their reproductive health if they marry too young.  2 – 4pm The health volunteer team and I are finally able to take the time for lunch. We have our lunch near the beach, and get to enjoy local seafood as our menu. Enjoying the seafood while looking at the beautiful sea view is a precious time. I certainly won't forget this moment. 4 – 6pm We continue our journey to East Lombong Village. We have many elderly patients here. Yet interestingly, during one of the patients’ examination, there is one mother who wants to get the contraceptive implant. For me, this is quite a shock, given that we rarely find women in this village who want to do family planning. The mother admitted that she did not know much about the family planning program and has many children. She is grateful that the PKBI volunteer team and I came to their shelter camp for the health examination. 6pm The team and I decide to return to the PKBI Post. Today’s journey is quite tiring but there is a sense of pride and emotion for having carried out a humanitarian mission for teenage girls, mothers, the elderly and even toddlers who still stay in the shelter camp. 7 – 8pm At the PKBI Post, after cleaning and tidying up the medical equipment again for the next day’s program, I  prepare dinner for the team and assist my child with her studies. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am involved in this program. I feel encouraged to continue to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized groups

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 08 January 2021

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 24 May 2022

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Woman smiling.
story

| 13 August 2020

In pictures: Delivering healthcare to remote communities in Fiji

In early April 2020, the all too familiar destruction of a Tropical Cyclone (TC) – Harold – hit the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga. One of the worst affected areas was the Eastern part of Fiji. Through support by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our Member Association, Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF), was quick to respond ensuring access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare for Kadavu’s women, girls, and vulnerable groups. Fiji's vulnerable coastline Fiji’s worst affected area was the Eastern part, with TC Harold bringing destructive storm force winds and storm surge. RFHAF focused its humanitarian response on the local Kadavu population. This remote area proves a challenge to reach for the team with supplies. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email RFHAF's humanitarian response team tackle rough terrain National travel restrictions - due to the current COVID-19 pandemic - on all inter island transfers has slowed the response in some areas, including Kadavu. The island of Kadavu is one of the least developed areas of Fiji, the main source of income is substance living (Yaqona). Transport around the island is difficult, with very few roads, no public water system or electricity. The humanitarian team from RFHAF travels by boat and then on foot. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Asenaca, client Kadavu, the biggest island in the Eastern division has the greatest population (10,897). 197 evacuation centres were activated in total, initially hosting over 6,240 people. Many are women of reproductive age, with an estimated 150 currently pregnant. Asenaca learns about breast cancer self-checks from RFHAF’s healthcare provider, Karo. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nasi, RFHAF healthcare provider The medical mobile team deliver a broad range of healthcare including contraception, information and counselling on sexual health, pregnancy, HIV and STI care and testing. RFHAF Team in Kadavu performing general health checks after TC Harold. Nasi administers a HPV shot to a client. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kate, client Young women and girls are at the heart of RFHAF’s healthcare provision. Kate walks home with her dignity kit after a health check at the mobile clinic. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Karo, RFHAF healthcare worker RFHAF offers sexual and reproductive healthcare as well as counselling, and referrals for follow up care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Alidi, RFHAF healthcare worker The team ensures young people in the community are not forgotten and provide information and education on relationships and sexual health and rights. Alidi conducting a session with a local group of young people at Gasele, Kadavu.Photos ©IPPF/Rob Rickman/Fiji Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Woman smiling.
story

| 24 May 2022

In pictures: Delivering healthcare to remote communities in Fiji

In early April 2020, the all too familiar destruction of a Tropical Cyclone (TC) – Harold – hit the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga. One of the worst affected areas was the Eastern part of Fiji. Through support by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our Member Association, Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF), was quick to respond ensuring access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare for Kadavu’s women, girls, and vulnerable groups. Fiji's vulnerable coastline Fiji’s worst affected area was the Eastern part, with TC Harold bringing destructive storm force winds and storm surge. RFHAF focused its humanitarian response on the local Kadavu population. This remote area proves a challenge to reach for the team with supplies. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email RFHAF's humanitarian response team tackle rough terrain National travel restrictions - due to the current COVID-19 pandemic - on all inter island transfers has slowed the response in some areas, including Kadavu. The island of Kadavu is one of the least developed areas of Fiji, the main source of income is substance living (Yaqona). Transport around the island is difficult, with very few roads, no public water system or electricity. The humanitarian team from RFHAF travels by boat and then on foot. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Asenaca, client Kadavu, the biggest island in the Eastern division has the greatest population (10,897). 197 evacuation centres were activated in total, initially hosting over 6,240 people. Many are women of reproductive age, with an estimated 150 currently pregnant. Asenaca learns about breast cancer self-checks from RFHAF’s healthcare provider, Karo. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nasi, RFHAF healthcare provider The medical mobile team deliver a broad range of healthcare including contraception, information and counselling on sexual health, pregnancy, HIV and STI care and testing. RFHAF Team in Kadavu performing general health checks after TC Harold. Nasi administers a HPV shot to a client. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kate, client Young women and girls are at the heart of RFHAF’s healthcare provision. Kate walks home with her dignity kit after a health check at the mobile clinic. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Karo, RFHAF healthcare worker RFHAF offers sexual and reproductive healthcare as well as counselling, and referrals for follow up care. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Alidi, RFHAF healthcare worker The team ensures young people in the community are not forgotten and provide information and education on relationships and sexual health and rights. Alidi conducting a session with a local group of young people at Gasele, Kadavu.Photos ©IPPF/Rob Rickman/Fiji Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Mother and child.
story

| 18 June 2020

In pictures: Healthcare in the face of the climate crisis in Kiribati

Humanitarian crises Largely brought on by sudden onset and slow-onset natural disasters, humanitarian crises are increasingly prevalent in the Pacific. During responses to humanitarian crises in the Pacific, sexual and reproductive healthcare is often under-prioritised and under-resourced. As a result, women and girls of reproductive age and vulnerable and marginalized groups are disproportionately affected and facing increased health and psychosocial risks. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Fragile environments Low topography, rising sea levels and insufficient fresh water supply leaves Kiribati’s population vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. The fragility of the outer islands of Kiribati during natural disasters is compounded by their geographic isolation, which makes transportation and communication during post-disaster relief and response both expensive and difficult. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Coastal exposure The majority of the population of 115,000 people live a subsistence lifestyle. Communities are geographically dispersed across 33 atolls covering 3.5 million square kilometres in the central Pacific Ocean. The population and infrastructure within Kiribati are largely concentrated on the coast, where communities face increased exposure to climate threats and natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, king tides, flooding, droughts, and occasionally cyclones. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Takaria, leader and youth organizer in the Tebikenikua community Takaria will be running to be a Member of Parliament in Kiribati in 2020. “I assist the youth with family problems and family planning and disasters. In our community there are unforeseen pregnancies, domestic violence, and disasters such as high tide waters and strong winds, which can also affect this community. The Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) is the key point for us with outreach and training so people in this community know how to prevent and treat STIs, etc. They all know where the KFHA clinic is and that they can get counselling or services there. The problem now is you can’t survive with the sea rise levels. I want all members of my community to live better and have better health and peace.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Susan*, sex worker Susan receives care at the Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) including a pap smear. Susan*, 28, is a sex worker from the town of Betio on the main island of Kiribati. Originally from an outlying island, she moved into Tarawa to seek work. Unable to find employment that would fulfill her dream of sending money back to her two children, she was introduced to sex work. With other sex workers, she regularly travels out to the large cargo ships from China, Philippines and Korea anchored off the coast of Kiribati. Despite her new income, she still can’t speak with her children or see them due to the restrictive costs involved of travel between islands.*pseudonym Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Theta, 25-year-old mother and youth volunteer Theta is part of the Humanitarian Youth Club set up by the Kiribati Family Health Association in her village. “We face a lot of situations here, one of them is disasters and the second is unemployment and school drop out with our youth. I have helped the Humanitarian Youth Club to apply for financial grants from the Australian High Commission [for $1,000] I am recognized as the smartest member who can write in English. We have learned how to design a disaster plan for the community and share our ideas on sexual and reproductive issues such as STIs. We discuss what we can do for the next strong tide, where we can gather as a community and what we can do if even the maneabe (town hall) floods? If the tide and wind is too strong, we need to go to another safer place, such as another community’s town hall. For now, I want to enjoy the chance to be in our own beloved country. I won’t move until the majority have already left. I want my daughter to grow up in the same place I grew up in.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Beitau, youth volunteer Beitau is the Chairperson of the Humanitarian Youth Club. “I was lucky to be selected as Chairperson as the Humanitarian Youth Club. I feel like I get more respect from the community now I am in this position. I would love advanced training on leadership now, to further assist the club. As I am the Chairperson of the HYC, my main target is to help people during a disaster. I have attended training through KFHA. What I took from this is that when a disaster strikes, we have to do our best for pregnant women, small children and people with disabilities. They more vulnerable and less able to survive a disaster.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Abe, youth officer Abe was involved with KFHA since 2012. “I was inspired by what they KFHA was doing and the issues they were addressing that affects youth. I was surprised to see how many young people come to the clinic as they are affected by STIs, HIV and teenage pregnancy. The lack of education here is a big problem, most people here have a lot of children and yet can’t afford to send them to school. Sexual and reproductive health is our responsibility and we must talk about it with young people. Climate change affects many countries, but Kiribati is small and low lying. I used to go visit a very nice beach with a lot of nice trees and plants. Now, the trees are gone, and the waves have taken over, and the houses have disappeared so no one can build there. In my role as a youth worker and activist, I tell people to fight climate change: to grow more mangroves, to clean up the beach, because we love our Kiribati.”©IPPF/Hannah Maule-Ffinch/Kiribati Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Mother and child.
story

| 24 May 2022

In pictures: Healthcare in the face of the climate crisis in Kiribati

Humanitarian crises Largely brought on by sudden onset and slow-onset natural disasters, humanitarian crises are increasingly prevalent in the Pacific. During responses to humanitarian crises in the Pacific, sexual and reproductive healthcare is often under-prioritised and under-resourced. As a result, women and girls of reproductive age and vulnerable and marginalized groups are disproportionately affected and facing increased health and psychosocial risks. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Fragile environments Low topography, rising sea levels and insufficient fresh water supply leaves Kiribati’s population vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. The fragility of the outer islands of Kiribati during natural disasters is compounded by their geographic isolation, which makes transportation and communication during post-disaster relief and response both expensive and difficult. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Coastal exposure The majority of the population of 115,000 people live a subsistence lifestyle. Communities are geographically dispersed across 33 atolls covering 3.5 million square kilometres in the central Pacific Ocean. The population and infrastructure within Kiribati are largely concentrated on the coast, where communities face increased exposure to climate threats and natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, king tides, flooding, droughts, and occasionally cyclones. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Takaria, leader and youth organizer in the Tebikenikua community Takaria will be running to be a Member of Parliament in Kiribati in 2020. “I assist the youth with family problems and family planning and disasters. In our community there are unforeseen pregnancies, domestic violence, and disasters such as high tide waters and strong winds, which can also affect this community. The Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) is the key point for us with outreach and training so people in this community know how to prevent and treat STIs, etc. They all know where the KFHA clinic is and that they can get counselling or services there. The problem now is you can’t survive with the sea rise levels. I want all members of my community to live better and have better health and peace.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Susan*, sex worker Susan receives care at the Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) including a pap smear. Susan*, 28, is a sex worker from the town of Betio on the main island of Kiribati. Originally from an outlying island, she moved into Tarawa to seek work. Unable to find employment that would fulfill her dream of sending money back to her two children, she was introduced to sex work. With other sex workers, she regularly travels out to the large cargo ships from China, Philippines and Korea anchored off the coast of Kiribati. Despite her new income, she still can’t speak with her children or see them due to the restrictive costs involved of travel between islands.*pseudonym Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Theta, 25-year-old mother and youth volunteer Theta is part of the Humanitarian Youth Club set up by the Kiribati Family Health Association in her village. “We face a lot of situations here, one of them is disasters and the second is unemployment and school drop out with our youth. I have helped the Humanitarian Youth Club to apply for financial grants from the Australian High Commission [for $1,000] I am recognized as the smartest member who can write in English. We have learned how to design a disaster plan for the community and share our ideas on sexual and reproductive issues such as STIs. We discuss what we can do for the next strong tide, where we can gather as a community and what we can do if even the maneabe (town hall) floods? If the tide and wind is too strong, we need to go to another safer place, such as another community’s town hall. For now, I want to enjoy the chance to be in our own beloved country. I won’t move until the majority have already left. I want my daughter to grow up in the same place I grew up in.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Beitau, youth volunteer Beitau is the Chairperson of the Humanitarian Youth Club. “I was lucky to be selected as Chairperson as the Humanitarian Youth Club. I feel like I get more respect from the community now I am in this position. I would love advanced training on leadership now, to further assist the club. As I am the Chairperson of the HYC, my main target is to help people during a disaster. I have attended training through KFHA. What I took from this is that when a disaster strikes, we have to do our best for pregnant women, small children and people with disabilities. They more vulnerable and less able to survive a disaster.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Abe, youth officer Abe was involved with KFHA since 2012. “I was inspired by what they KFHA was doing and the issues they were addressing that affects youth. I was surprised to see how many young people come to the clinic as they are affected by STIs, HIV and teenage pregnancy. The lack of education here is a big problem, most people here have a lot of children and yet can’t afford to send them to school. Sexual and reproductive health is our responsibility and we must talk about it with young people. Climate change affects many countries, but Kiribati is small and low lying. I used to go visit a very nice beach with a lot of nice trees and plants. Now, the trees are gone, and the waves have taken over, and the houses have disappeared so no one can build there. In my role as a youth worker and activist, I tell people to fight climate change: to grow more mangroves, to clean up the beach, because we love our Kiribati.”©IPPF/Hannah Maule-Ffinch/Kiribati Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email