UNITED NATIONS, New York — One hundred days after typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, hit the Philippines and left behind massive destruction and loss of lives, much remains to be done to fully bring affected communities back on their feet.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, estimates that there are more than 250,000 pregnant and 169,000 breastfeeding women in the typhoon-hit areas. Some 1,000 childbirths are taking place every day, with 150 expected to experience potentially life-threatening complications.
A midwife gives her patient a contraceptive injection during a medical mission in Tacloban. Photo: William Ryan/UNFPA
Although great progress has been made in restoring healthcare systems, additional resources are needed for life-saving reproductive health services and to protect women and girls against violence.
UNFPA estimated shortly after the onset of the crisis that $16.2 million would be needed to specifically address the reproductive health and protection needs of some 3.5 million women and girls of child-bearing age affected by the disaster.
Nearly $10 million is still needed as part of the recovery process. The resources so far received funded more than 60 medical missions, which reached out to more than 12,000 women and girls in the four hardest hit provinces of Leyte, Eastern Samar, Iloilo and Capiz. The missions provided maternal health care, such as pre- and post-natal check-ups, and services to prevent gender-based violence. Dignity kits, containing safety and hygiene supplies for pregnant and lactating women, were also distributed.
UNFPA has provided health facilities with medical equipment, supplies and medicines to ensure clean and safe deliveries during the crisis. It also set up two Emergency Maternity Units, or hospitals in containers, in Palo, Leyte and Balangiga, Eastern Samar. In addition, 10 ambulances and 21 motorbike ambulances were handed over to local health facilities as transport support for emergency obstetric cases.
To address issues of gender-based violence, UNFPA established 17 women-friendly spaces across the four provinces. The spaces serve as primary venues for raising awareness on gender-based violence, anti-trafficking as well as for psychosocial support with referrals to services for survivors. It also has linkages to cash-for-work programmes.
Despite these achievements, efforts need to continue to ensure the reconstruction of health facilities, and re-establish emergency protection mechanisms for the prevention and management of gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence is widespread across the world but the threat escalates during emergencies as the scant protections women and girls have even in times of stability are eroded. Women and girls are also at increased risk of human trafficking, including sexual exploitation, when a crisis strikes.
Donors who have so far contributed to the efforts are Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund, the Governments of Kuwait and Hungary, and individual contributors through the New York-based non-profit Friends of UNFPA.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
For more information or media inquiries please contact:
In New York:
Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque; Tel: +1 212 297 5077; sicotte-levesque[at]unfpa.org
Omar Gharzeddine; Tel: +1 212 297 5028; gharzeddine[at]unfpa.org
William A. Ryan; Tel: +66 89 897 6984; ryanw[at]unfpa.org
Arlene Alano; Tel: +63 920 928 6471; alano[at]unfpa.org