UNFPAUNFPA Annual Report 2001
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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.

The first 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 2001.

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 and equipment.

  • 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 research.

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.