Press Release

UNFPA Provides Special Care to Pregnant Women Following Earthquake in Costa Rica

19 January 2009
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York—An earthquake that hit Costa Rica earlier this month has left pregnant women and young people particularly vulnerable. Nearly 4,000 people, a majority of them women and children, were forced to move to emergency shelters. More than 25,000 households have no water. Twenty people were reported killed by the 8 January quake, but recovery workers believe that more victims will be found once the rubble is cleared.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in cooperation with government agencies and non-governmental organizations, is providing shelter and special assistance for women in the late stages of pregnancy and for their children. The organization is also providing hygiene kits for thousands of people, as well as recreational materials for adolescents and young people living in shelters, in addition to logistical support for the relief operation.

Patricia Salgado, UNFPA’s Assistant Representative in Costa Rica said the Fund helped establish special shelters for women in the late stages of pregnancy “to safeguard their lives and those of their soon-to-be-born children.”

Experience shows that pregnancy-related deaths and sexual violence soar in post-crisis or recovery periods. Reproductive health services, including prenatal care, assisted delivery and emergency obstetric care, often become unavailable. Young people become more vulnerable to HIV infection and sexual exploitation. Many women lose access to family planning services, exposing them to unwanted pregnancy in perilous conditions.

In such situations, UNFPA moves quickly to protect the reproductive health of communities and to help them move beyond the acute crisis and enter the reconstruction phase. The Fund also supports rapid health assessments to allow for appropriate and efficient relief.

Contact information:

Trygve Olfarnes
Tel.: +52 55 5250-7977
Email: olfarnes@unfpa.org

Gabriela Rodriguez
Tel.: + 506 2296-1265
Email: grodriguez@unfpa.org

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

Costa Rica
Population : 5.1 mil
Fertility rate
1.7
Maternal Mortality Ratio
27
Contraceptives prevalence rate
54
Population aged 10-24
22%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 81%
Girls 84%

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