Press Release

UNFPA Airlifts Reproductive Health Supplies to El Salvador Quake Victims

26 January 2001

United Nations, New York – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today announced it is airlifting reproductive health supplies to victims of the recent earthquake in El Salvador. The supplies are scheduled to ship early on Monday.

The supplies will help ensure safe childbirth and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases among the displaced population. UNFPA also included medical equipment needed to resuscitate newborn babies and treat miscarriages and complicated pregnancies. The supplies are intended to cover the urgent reproductive health needs of a population of 300,000 for a period of up to three months.

“Pregnant women and newborn babies are the most vulnerable groups in a natural disaster,” said the Executive Director of UNFPA, Thoraya Obaid. “Complicated pregnancies and deliveries are common in high-stress environments and can become life-threatening if left untreated, as can miscarriages. Quality prenatal care and safe deliveries are essential to ensure safe motherhood and healthy children, and that need is currently not being met in many areas of El Salvador. UNFPA is rushing to change that.”

An assessment released yesterday by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) estimated that the earthquake affected about 1 million people, or one sixth of El Salvador’s total population; 500,000 have been left homeless. UNFPA also assessed the situation and found that access to reproductive health care, including family planning, was severely restricted in all but a few localities.

The safe motherhood and reproductive health supplies to be sent will provide basic equipment and materials needed to perform clean, safe deliveries. They include clean home delivery supplies, such as plastic sheeting, razor blades for cutting umbilical cords, sterile gloves and plastic aprons. Also included are health centre delivery equipment used to stabilize precarious situations, such as convulsions and bleeding; and referral-level instruments to perform caesarian sections, resuscitate babies and mothers, as well as to handle childbirth complications. The supplies also include tools for HIV prevention and safe blood transfusion.

UNFPA’s Humanitarian Response Group works with governments, the United Nations system, and non-governmental organizations to provide quality reproductive health care and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, in conflict and disaster situations. The Fund also provides educational materials and training for health care professionals to build local capacity and strengthen current development efforts.

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UNFPA is the world’s largest multilateral source of population assistance. About a quarter of all population assistance from donor nations to developing countries is channelled through the Fund. Since it began operations in 1969, the Fund has provided about $5 billion in assistance to virtually all developing countries.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031

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