Press Release

Reproductive Health Care Being Restored in Tsunami-Hit Areas

22 December 2005
Author: UNFPA

BANGKOK, Thailand— A year after the Indian Ocean tsunami, work is ongoing to restore reproductive health services and address psychosocial needs in affected communities with support from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

As part of the United Nations coordinated inter-agency response, UNFPA country offices in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Thailand are helping to rebuild and re-equip damaged health facilities, while continuing to provide training and supplies so that local governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can offer services at temporary sites and mobile clinics. A key priority is maternal health care.

UNFPA is also working with various partners to ensure that recovery plans do not overlook the special needs of women and adolescents, including action to prevent sexual violence.

In Indonesia, officials are releasing the findings of a UNFPA-funded census in Aceh and Nias, data that will help guide reconstruction planning. By providing training and supplies, UNFPA has strengthened the capacity of the Aceh Provincial Health Office and local health workers to provide quality reproductive health services in tsunami-affected communities. Eight primary health centres have been equipped with ambulances and instruments for resuscitation and emergency obstetric care. Mobile units are providing similar care to pregnant women in remote villages.

With the Fund’s support, 10 community centres have been set up to provide psychosocial counselling and outreach, along with income-generation training, religious and social activities. Through the Indonesian Psychologists Association, counsellors have been trained on basic counselling skills, response to gender-based violence, and adolescent and child psychology.

UNFPA has continued distributing personal hygiene kits to displaced people through its partners whenever needed. Some 320,000 kits have been distributed this year.

In Sri Lanka, UNFPA is supporting the reconstruction of several hospitals and health units that were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami.

Under an agreement with the Ministry of Health and with the technical support of the United Nations Office of Project Services, UNFPA is helping to restore 18 facilities providing reproductive health services. These include a maternity complex, several primary health centres and a dozen medical offices. Most of these projects are due to be completed by June next year. Each facility will have medical equipment and supplies that meet Government specifications. Next year, service providers in the North and East will be trained to upgrade their clinical and counselling skills.

Another area of UNFPA assistance is addressing the psychosocial needs of those affected by the tsunami. The Fund has helped the Directorate of Mental Health to develop a national policy and to train administrators, health workers and social service personnel. UNFPA is also supporting the establishment of 27 women’s centres to respond to women’s needs and to counter gender-based violence. The centres, due to open in 2006, will provide basic information and support services and strengthen local coping mechanisms.

In the Maldives, UNFPA continues to assist authorities in assessing the reproductive health care and psychosocial support needs of the displaced. It is working to re-equip damaged facilities to restore comprehensive, quality reproductive health services; a large volume of equipment and supplies will arrive in early 2006. Two fully equipped health boats are being procured to provide emergency care, including transport for women facing complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

The Fund has provided reproductive health training for hospital medical staff and community health workers. It has recruited several gynaecologists and midwives from abroad to work in hospitals and mobile clinics as well as to train local staff in 2006.

In Thailand, UNFPA is working in four of the worst-affected provinces to address the reproductive health needs of the local population and migrant-worker communities. The focus is on safe motherhood, family planning, gender equality, HIV prevention and adolescent reproductive health.

Through its support to the World Vision Foundation of Thailand, UNFPA is providing general health care and reproductive health services to some 5,000 migrant workers and their families through mobile clinics.

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UNFPA is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Contact Information:

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028
Email: gharzeddine@unfpa.org

Kristin Hetle
Tel.: +1 212-297-5020
Email: hetle@unfpa.org

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031
Email: dungus@unfpa.org

Thailand
Population : 69.3 mil
Fertility rate
1.4
Maternal Mortality Ratio
20
Contraceptives prevalence rate
78
Population aged 10-24
19%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 77%
Girls 77%