EMERGENCIES: PROVIDING SERVICES
In an earthquake, flood or violent conflict, immediate
reproductive health concerns are the same: childbirth,
sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence.
When disaster strikes, precarious conditions multiply
risk. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are a
leading cause of death and disease among refugee women
of childbearing age.
A family from Kosovo waiting in a health clinic.
Rebuilding reproductive health services is the
focus of UNFPA support for recovery in Kosovo
now that the conflict has subsided.
Photo: Peter Bussian
Since 1994, UNFPA has supported
emergency reproductive health projects in more than 50
countries and territories.
Women and children account for more than 75 per
cent of the refugees and displaced persons at risk from
war, famine, persecution and natural disaster. Of this
population, 25 per cent are women of reproductive age
and one in five is likely to be pregnant.
In 2001, UNFPA supported early and effective
action to meet the emergency reproductive health needs
of refugees, the internally displaced and others affected
by crisis. We worked closely with governments, other UN
agencies and NGOs in humanitarian responses to assist
people suddenly deprived of life-saving care.
step was often a rapid needs assessment, followed later
by research and data analysis to ensure that basic needs
were being met.
Equipment and supplies
UNFPA dispatched 44 shipments of emergency equipment
and supplies to 24 countries and territories in
Clean delivery kits, for example, have helped
mothers deliver safely in emergency situations, providing
soap, plastic sheeting, razor blades, string and gloves.
Pre-packaged kits are prepared in advance to meet many
needs: safe delivery, condoms to prevent HIV transmission
and unwanted pregnancy, rape management, STI
prevention and treatment, care after miscarriages and
unsafe abortions, caesarian sections and blood transfusions.
These supplies help to implement the Minimum
Initial Service Package developed by the Inter-Agency
Working Group for Reproductive Health in Emergency
Situations, of which UNFPA is a founding member.
- Three earthquakes in early 2001 killed or injured
thousands in El Salvador and damaged or destroyed
nearly every hospital. UNFPA responded immediately,
conducting a rapid needs assessment after the first
quake and within days dispatching emergency supplies
- UNFPA dispatched emergency supplies and personnel,
supported 12 mobile health clinics, provided counselling
support and refocused ongoing programmes to
help pregnant women and infants affected by a major
earthquake in Gujarat state, India.
In Kosovo, projects once focused on the urgent provision
of equipment and supplies have progressed into
reconstruction, working towards the long-term development
of a health care system supported by demographic
An advocacy booklet, Reproductive
Health for Communities in Crisis: UNFPA
Emergency Response, was produced in
2001 to raise awareness among donors
and partners about the need to protect
reproductive health in times of crisis.