Press Release

UNFPA Ships Supplies to Ensure Safe Childbirth and Meet Women's Needs in Tsunami-Hit Countries

14 Jan 2005

JAKARTA—To protect the lives of Indonesian women affected by last month’s earthquake and tsunami, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has sent 18 tons of equipment and supplies for maternity care to Aceh Province. Contents range from simple supplies for safe and sanitary home deliveries to hospital equipment needed to re-establish emergency obstetric care for those who experience life-threatening complications during childbirth.

Reproductive health supplies are loaded into trucks bound for Aceh.Photo: Trygve Olfarnes/UNFPA

“This equipment will give expectant mothers in the tsunami-hit region access to basic health care, and could prevent life-threatening complications from pregnancy,” said Bernard Coquelin, UNFPA Representative in Indonesia. He stressed that ignoring reproductive health needs after natural disasters adds to the death toll.

These shipments reflect the findings of a joint assessment team sent to Aceh earlier this month by UNFPA and the Ministry of Health.

UNFPA is similarly working to meet the immediate needs of displaced women and adolescent girls in the other countries hardest hit the tsunami. In Sri Lanka, 12,000 safe delivery kits (consisting of soap, a razor blade, string for tying off the umbilical cord and cotton cloth) have been sent to distribution points in a number of devastated districts. Equipment and supplies to ensure safe childbirth are being provided to district hospitals and health centres, along with contraceptives and drugs for treating sexually transmitted infections.

Following an assessment of reproductive health needs in the Maldives, supplies have arrived and basic “mother-baby delivery kits” are being produced for distribution.

In all three countries, UNFPA is providing basic hygiene supplies for women, which are often overlooked in the response to emergencies. With UNFPA support, the Government of Sri Lanka and Sarvodaya, a national grass-roots organization, have begun to distribute some 300,000 personal hygiene kits assembled by volunteers from the National Youth Services Council.

In Thailand, UNFPA, the Department of Health and other partners have just completed a needs assessment in the area ravaged by the tsunami.

Protecting displaced women and providing post-disaster counselling are also priorities for UNFPA. With funding from the Dutch Government, UNFPA is helping Sri Lanka’s National Committee on Women assess security and counselling needs in camps throughout the country.

In addition, the Fund is recruiting doctors and technical staff to assist with relief efforts in each of the affected countries. A key objective is to promote equitable and safe access to services, recognizing the special situation of women, youth and other vulnerable populations.


UNFPA is assisting governments and local populations in all the countries affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami. To support the Fund's emergency response to the disaster or learn more, please visit

Contact Information: 

Indonesia: Trygve Olfarnes,, tel. +62 21 314 1308, ext. 318, mobile +62 8 151 351 7440.

Sri Lanka: Don Hinrichsen,, mobile +1 917 915 5675.

Bangkok: William A. Ryan,, tel. +66 2 288 2446, mobile +66(0)9 897 6984.

New York: David del Vecchio,, tel. +1 212 297 4975, mobile +1 917 518 7743 or Omar Gharzeddine,, tel. +1 212 297 5028.

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