UNFPA calls for RH services for pregnant women in typhoon-hit areas
MANILA, Philippines–The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday said relief efforts in areas hit by Typhoon “Ruby” (Hagupit) must focus on ensuring that reproductive health services would be easily accessible to pregnant women expected to deliver their babies soon to avert maternal and newborn deaths.
In a statement, UNFPA country representative Klaus Beck, said health facilities in the typhoon-hit areas must be fully operational again and that roads should be cleared and transportation be readily available for women, especially those in evacuation centers, who would deliver their babies.
“It would be a tragedy should any woman die giving birth after having already survived Typhoon Ruby. UNFPA remains fully committed to support the national and local governments to avoid this,” said Beck.
Citing government data, the organization said there were over 30,000 pregnant women in seven regions affected by the typhoon who may be in need of reproductive health services, including facilities and supplies for clean deliveries.
About 100 childbirths are expected daily from the affected cities and municipalities and some of these deliveries may experience life-threatening obstetric complications, according to UNFPA.
“The situation clearly demonstrates the need to ensure that pregnant women affected by Typhoon Ruby continue to have access to maternal care services, including safe and clean deliveries, despite the precarious situation,” said the group.
As part of its assistance to the national and local governments’ relief efforts, it has allotted 7,400 clean delivery kits, which contain basic delivery supplies that can be used either in a health facility or evacuation center, for distribution to pregnant women about to give birth, said the UNFPA.
The organization also added that it was ready to distribute birthing equipment, supplies and medicines to health facilities damaged by Ruby, the strongest storm to barrel through the country this year, to fast-track the restoration of their operations.
At least 4,500 “dignity kits” for pregnant and lactating women, with babies aged six months and below, were also ready for distribution.
These kits comprise supplies that will help maintain their feminine hygiene and restore their dignity during crisis situations, like panties, sanitary napkins, soap, towels, among others.
The UNFPA also announced on Wednesday that members of community women’s watch groups previously trained on violence against women and children (VAWC) prevention in areas ravaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) last year will also be ready to assist in the areas worst-hit by Ruby.
“The UNFPA also looks into the protection needs of more than 500,000 women and girls of child-bearing age affected by the typhoon who are living either inside or outside evacuation centers as cases of violence against [them] may increase during displacement,” it said.
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