Press Release

25 September 2009

Forum to Seek Ways to Meet Long-Ignored Sexual, Reproductive Health Needs in Protracted Crises

UNITED NATIONS, New York—A key forum on ways to meet the long-neglected sexual and reproductive health needs of people affected by protracted crises, such as conflicts, will be held from 28 to 30 September in Granada, Spain.

The event, Consultation on Sexual and Reproductive Health in Protracted Crises and Recovery, is being organized by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Andalusian School of Public Health.

"Today, there are still barriers to the full and effective implementation of sexual and reproductive health services during protracted crises and in the recovery phase that follows," said Dr. Daniel Lopez Acunã, Director of Recovery and Transition Programmes, WHO's Health Action in Crises Cluster. "This results in lower coverage of family planning, much higher rates of maternal mortality, ranging from 660 to1,800 deaths for every 100, 000 live births, and in a decreased ability to prevent and manage gender-based violence."

About 50 participants will attend the consultation, with many directly involved in providing health care in countries or territories either in or recovering from protracted crises. They will include health officials from Sudan, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Nepal and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Representatives of United Nations bodies engaged in health and humanitarian partners from the Health Cluster who are providing health services in crises will also participate. Donors and academic experts are also expected.

During the consultation, they will seek ways to include sexual and reproductive health services as a central part of humanitarian and recovery health interventions. That would be after a careful review of past experiences and lessons learned. The participants will seek consensus on the services that are needed in crises and on how best to make them sustainable as part of comprehensive national reproductive health services.

“We are observing a shift in pattern in emergencies from the acute and sudden onset to a more complex situation of recurrent and protracted crises. Humanitarian responses that follow also need to shift their focus increasingly onto achieving longer-term objectives that allow for more sustainable action,” said Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Chief of UNFPA’s Humanitarian Response Branch. “Post-crisis reproductive health programming should aim to ultimately support the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 5.”

“The way to address reproductive health needs in protracted crises and recovery phases is to ensure all stakeholders work together to reestablish a functional health system," Dr. Mahmood added. "Full establishment of comprehensive health services, from primary health care up to tertiary-level care can, only be achieved by providing financial resources, strengthening health systems and developing human resource that will address the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population."

 

Contact Information:

Jemilah Mahmood
Tel:  +1 917 325 1098
Email:  mahmood@unfpa.org

Laila Baker
Tel:  +41 796 198 016