LEYTE, Philippines — UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, acknowledged the heroism of health workers in Typhoon Haiyan-affected areas who continued to serve their communities, despite having been affected by the disaster themselves.
“Every individual here is a hero. You have gone through a lot with the scale of destruction left by Haiyan but you continue to serve despite the situation. It is an honour for UNFPA to be working with you and being a part of your recovery efforts,” said UNFPA Deputy Executive Director Kate Gilmore during a meeting with health workers at the Leyte Provincial Hospital.
More than 400 health facilities were either partially or totally damaged when Haiyan hit eight provinces in central Philippines almost three months ago. A majority of these facilities were barangay (village) health stations with birthing facilities which provide primary health services to people in the communities.
To ensure the continued delivery of lifesaving maternal health services, UNFPA has organized reproductive health medical missions in partnership with the Government, nongovernmental organizations and local health workers to reach out to pregnant and breastfeeding women in worst-affected areas. UNFPA has also provided delivery equipment, medicines and supplies to damaged health facilities and to midwives so they can provide services for clean and safe deliveries despite the situation.
During the visit to the hospital, Gilmore turned over another ambulance – the fifth to be donated by UNFPA to the affected provinces – to Leyte Governor Dominic Petilla.
“This is our modest contribution to your efforts to bring back normalcy to your life after the typhoon. It is ‘modest’ because it cannot compare to your heroism,” Gilmore told the hospital staff.
“Haiyan made Tacloban known worldwide not only because of the scale of its destruction, but also because of the courage and determination of the people who were affected by it,” she added.
During her stay in Leyte, Gilmore also visited a women-friendly space supported by UNFPA in the town of Tolosa, where she met women participating in an information session on the prevention of gender-based violence.
“I am awed just standing in front of you, with smiles on your faces despite what you’ve gone through. This women-friendly space is for you. You deserve a space of your own to have a time for yourself under the current circumstances,” she told the women.
Gilmore flew to Tacloban City after addressing the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights in Manila. In her message during the opening of the main conference, she said the destruction caused by Haiyan illustrates why the sustainable development framework of the International Conference on Population and Development remains relevant 20 years since it was implemented.
“This natural disaster – unprecedented in scale – is but a most recent example of why our shared labour to realize the aspirations of the ICPD remains so relevant and why its greatest potential for good lies ahead of us – not behind us. The greatest challenge, as we move into the next phase of human history, is how best to ensure that these decades to come lead the way to more resilient, inclusive and sustainable development,” she said.
She urged participants to the conference to examine what needs to be done to ensure that the future will be “more fair, more inclusive, less divisive, and bearing fruits more universally enjoyed.”
For more information, contact:
Arlene Calaguian Alano – Tel: +63 2 901 0306, E-mail: alano[at]unfpa.org
William A. Ryan – Tel: +66 89 897 6984, E-mail: ryanw[at]unfpa.org
In New York:
Omar Gharzeddine – Tel: +1 212 297 5028, E-mail: gharzeddine[at]unfpa.org
Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque – Tel: +1 646 309 6836, E-mail: sicotte-levesque[at]unfpa.org