UNFPA Responds To Urgent Maternal Health and Protection Needs of Women in the Philippines

TEHRAN, 19 November 2013 (UNIC)—The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), have recently joined the United Nations system in declaring a level 3 emergency – the highest level of emergency in UN terms – following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. “As a result, our response to the tremendous devastation has become of utmost priority for UNFPA,” explained Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Fund’s Executive Director. “We are urgently providing life-saving reproductive health services, including clean delivery kits and emergency obstetric care, to millions of affected women and girls.”

Together with its partners, UNFPA has already scaled up its support across the country. It is estimated that 11.3 million people are affected, 620,000 people have been displaced, and the death toll is expected to rise above 10,000. UNFPA estimates that more than two million women and girls of childbearing age, including 180,000 pregnant women, could need urgent reproductive health care. However, many areas that have been severely affected are still not reachable.

“We are also concerned for the safety and protection of women and girls,” said Dr. Osotimehin. “In the aftermath of natural disasters, chaos and a breakdown of law and order lead to increased risk of abuse.” Out of the total affected population, an estimated 49,000 are women and girls aged 15 to 49, who could be at risk of sexual violence. Some 2,250 of them are in evacuation centres.

The way forward

While preliminary assessments continue, UNFPA is mobilizing resources and staff to respond to immediate needs. So far, UNFPA is:

• procuring equipment to tackle urgent reproductive health-care needs, including maternal health, for two million women and girls of childbearing age;

• providing its national partners and midwives with clean delivery kits (which contain basic essentials for preventing fatal infections), since about 40 per cent of women in the Philippines deliver at home;

• setting up five rural health clinics or health centres to provide primary health care, including basic emergency obstetric care, in each of the eight most affected provinces;

• providing psychosocial services to displaced people;

• establishing women-friendly spaces where temporary shelters will be built, while conducting gender-based violence information sessions and training camp managers on prevention measures;

•coordinating with partners to reinstate and strengthen capacity of police and local governments to support prevention and management of gender-based violence.