One month after the cyclone in Myanmar, international relief agencies have still not reached more than 1 million survivors and the support received by an estimated 1.3 million others affected has been inadequate, according to UN reports. On top of other basic needs, tens of thousands of pregnant women are in need of clean and safe delivery options and antenatal care due to the destruction of health centres and hospitals and a lack of medical staff.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, continues to send provisions to Myanmar to enable health providers to ensure that pregnant women can deliver safely. These shipments (ranging from rubber gloves for midwives to hospital equipment) are packaged in kits ready for distribution to community health facilities, and include supplies for preventing HIV infection and unwanted pregnancies and responding to sexual violence. Two batches, intended to serve a population of approximately 450,000, have been delivered to the Ministry of Health. A third shipment, sufficient to meet the reproductive health needs of an additional 500,000 people, is expected to arrive this week.
This week doctors from the Myanmar Medical Association are joining mobile service teams funded by UNFPA to provide emergency reproductive health services including safe delivery. The first team is being deployed today to two villages in Phyapon Township. A second team will go to Nyaungpintha village in Kungyangone Township on 8 June.
UNFPA also continues to provide ‘dignity kits’ of soap, clothing and sanitary supplies to help displaced women and men maintain personal hygiene. These are packed in buckets for collecting water. Youth volunteers have been mobilized to help assemble the kits, which various partners are distributing.
Staff are being recruited to ensure that those affected will continue to receive aid after the initial emergency phase of the humanitarian response.
As part of the humanitarian community’s coordinated response to Cyclone Nargis, UNFPA serves as the lead agency for reproductive health, and is working with other agencies to ensure the safety of displaced children and women, including protection from gender-based and sexual violence. The Fund continues to train local partners in implementing the Minimum Initial Service Package, an internationally agreed set of activities to prevent maternal deaths, HIV transmission and sexual violence in the early stages of a refugee emergency. UNFPA is also providing mental health and psychosocial care to people affected by the cyclone. Staff recruitment is being taken to ensure that those affected will continue to receive aid after the initial emergency phase of the humanitarian response.
The international community’s Flash Appeal for Myanmar, which includes UNFPA assistance, is expected to be revised during the last week of June.