SIX MONTHS AFTER THE TSUNAMI: UNFPA HELPS RESTORE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CAPACITY AND PROMOTES WOMEN’S RIGHTS

24 June 2005
IHA/1063-POP/932

SIX MONTHS AFTER THE TSUNAMI: UNFPA HELPS RESTORE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CAPACITY AND PROMOTES WOMEN’S RIGHTS

24/6/2005
Press ReleaseIHA/1063 POP/932

SIX MONTHS AFTER THE TSUNAMI:  UNFPA HELPS RESTORE REPRODUCTIVE

 

HEALTH CAPACITY AND PROMOTES WOMEN’S RIGHTS

(Reissued as received.)

BANGKOK, 24 June (UNFPA) -- Re-establishing quality reproductive health services is a top priority for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, six months after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

In Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand and India, the Fund is helping health authorities rebuild and resupply damaged facilities and train staff, so pregnant women can deliver in safe conditions and receive emergency care when needed and couples can plan their families.

UNFPA also continues to help meet the needs and ensure the dignity of displaced tsunami survivors, especially women, by providing basic hygiene kits, clean delivery supplies, contraceptives and psychosocial counselling.  And it is working with various partners to promote women’s rights and prevent gender-based violence in affected communities.

“Meeting Women’s Needs, Supporting Aceh’s Future”, a special report on these activities in Aceh province, Indonesia, appears today on UNFPA’s website:  www.unfpa.org.  It notes that the Fund is helping to rebuild the capacity of the provincial and district health offices of the midwives’ association and the family planning board to provide reproductive health services.  It is upgrading eight primary health centres and setting up satellite health posts and mobile medical units to serve displaced communities and replace services destroyed in the disaster.

And to facilitate reconstruction and ongoing support for the displaced, UNFPA has mobilized funds and is providing technical support for a provincial census that will give planners a better understanding of the impact of the tsunami -- including the different ways women and men were affected -- and of needs for expanded social services.

In 9 of 12 affected districts in Sri Lanka, UNFPA is supporting the Ministry of Health to rehabilitate 20 facilities, including primary health centres and maternity wards to restore basic reproductive health services and emergency obstetric care.  In the Maldives, under an agreement with the Government signed on 1 June, the Fund will restore and equip health facilities, train staff and set up mobile units in the five hardest hit atolls, Raa, Meemu, Thaa, Dhaalu and Laamu.

In Thailand, UNFPA is working to meet reproductive health needs and promote HIV/AIDS prevention in both the local Thai and Burmese migrant communities, through mobile medical teams and community health volunteers.  In India, it has provided maternal health equipment and supplies in Tamil Nadu, and is supporting psychosocial counselling for women and adolescents.

At UNFPA’s initiative, eight non-governmental organization-run centres offering psychosocial counselling to traumatized survivors have been set up in Aceh; the centres will also offer skills training for women.  In Sri Lanka, the Fund has taken a lead in assisting the Government to coordinate the psychosocial interventions, including building capacities of local health providers.  It has also trained officials and community health workers on preventing gender-based violence.

These ongoing rehabilitation activities follow UNFPA’s prompt and ongoing relief efforts aimed at meeting the special needs of women -- including safe childbirth, sanitary supplies and prevention of violence.  It has provided more than 250,000 hygiene kits and large amounts of medicines, medical equipment, contraceptives and safe delivery supplies for distribution by government and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners.  Donors have given UNFPA $26 million for post-tsunami assistance.

“In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, it has been heartening that the international community recognized that survivors need reproductive health care along with food, water and shelter”, said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya A. Obaid.  “We must make sure that these needs are not forgotten in the recovery period.”

For more information, please contact:  in Bangkok, William A. Ryan, e-mail:  ryanw@unfpa.org, tel.:  +66 2 288 2446, mobile:  +66 9 897 6984; in Indonesia, Maria Hulupi, e-mail:  mendah.unfpa@un.or.id, mobile:  +62 815 1157 6660; in New York, Omar Gharzeddine, e-mail:  gharzeddine@unfpa.org, tel.: +1 212 297 5028.

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For information media. Not an official record.