Health assessments underline urgency of addressing reproductive health

2 March 2016

UNFPA Pacific, Suva (March 2, 2016) - Reaching women and adolescent girls isolated by the lack of communication, transportation or geographical challenges to ensure they are provided with practical daily needs for quality sexual and reproductive health will be critical for inclusive recovery.


Rapid assessment missions of medical facilities by the Fiji Government Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional Office has also underlined the trying circumstances health workers are having to work in.

The teams also distribute prepositioned dignity kits for women (which include clothes, sanitary pads, condoms, water-proof pouches) and clean delivery kits at medical facilities. Prepositioning clean delivery kits was possible with the support of the Government of Australia.

"The response from the community has been overwhelming, receiving the kits with tears in their eyes because it is not often that assistance is specific to them as women and girls," Ministry of Health and Medical Services Family Health Unit official Karolina Tamani said.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Winston, UNFPA estimates 5,600 women of the estimated 87,500 women of reproductive age or between 15 to 49 years are pregnant, based on an estimated total affected population of 350,000 people. The affected areas can expect 600 babies per month for the next year. Of the expected 600 deliveries per month, 88 women will experience childbirth complications and require additional obstetric care.

"Of the more than 100 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2015, one quarter of them were women and adolescent girls or reproductive age - assistance that fails to meet their needs will impact our effectiveness," Dr Laurent Zessler said.

"There is an urgent need to address issues related to sexual and reproductive health: women and girls must be able to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or from sexual violence that could lead to contracting sexually-transmitted infections including HIV.

"We must also ensure that services for pregnant women and childbirth facilities remain accessible; addressing such fundamentals will be critical for collective recovery."

For more information, please contact Ariela Zibiah on +679 3230711 or 8682097 and/or Email: [email protected]

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UNFPA Pacific is part of the United Nations Pacific Humanitarian Team that works in tandem to ensure coordinated support to the people and the Government of Fiji.
An initial batch of prepositioned dignity kits for women, which includes clothes, personal hygiene packs including sanitary pads, condoms, bath and washing soap, etc, was dispatched to the worst-hit island communities including Koro within after Cyclone Winston, and those on the North-Eastern coast of the Fiji Group's main island, Viti Levu.
Of the more than 100 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, one quarter are women and girls aged 15 to 49 who are at heightened risk of sexually-transmitted infections including HIV, unintended, unwanted pregnancy, maternal death and illness and sexual and gender-based violence.
Amid humanitarian emergencies, UNFPA provides a range of lifesaving services focused on pregnant women, new mothers and their infants, and young persons - distributing dignity kits with essential supplies, establishing reproductive health camps where women can give birth safely, helping create safe spaces for the displaced where women and girls can be protected from gender-based violence, and empowering young persons to participate in the humanitarian response and reach out to their peers.
UNFPA has long responded to humanitarian emergencies across Asia and the Pacific, the most disaster prone region in the world, including Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, the Nepal earthquake and floods in Myanmar triggered by Cyclone Komen last year.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston is considered one of the strongest storms recorded in Fiji and experienced in the South Pacific with estimated sustained winds of around 230 kmph, gusting up to 325 kmph.