PORT-AU-PRINCE — Six months after the 7.0 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 Haitians, an estimated 1.5 million people are still living in temporary camps. Their reproductive health needs, including maternal and neonatal health, are now being met by a range of mobile and temporary clinics in addition to those offered by the city’s hospitals that survived the quake.
Life in the temporary camps poses a number of health challenges, especially for women and girls. Living in tight, often insecure quarters with minimal access to sanitation can expose women and girls to sexual violence and other dangers.
Over the past months, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has provided maternal health supplies, including birthing kits to serve a population of 2 million people, as well as 22,000 hygiene kits aimed at the female population living in temporary camps, along with nearly 1,000 tents, 2000 mattresses and 17,000 solar lamps.
UNFPA is also supporting the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population in carrying out a temporary, national health plan developed after the earthquake. The plan includes:
• Improving the availability of information concerning the reproductive health of displaced persons by gathering information in 130 temporary camps and 250 health centres located near camps in Port-au-Prince.
• Reviving the National School of Nurses and Midwives by reestablishing midwife training programmes.
• Working with UNICEF to set up ten clinics to provide skilled reproductive health services especially geared towards basic newborn emergency care.
• Supporting the Haitian Association of Obstetricians-Gynecologists in establishing a referral service for maternal and neonatal health services.
• Working jointly with Haitian authorities, UNICEF and the World Health Organization on reducing maternal mortality by strengthening the quality of reproductive health services in a number of hospitals and clinics.
• Distributing 7 million condoms among the displaced population in order to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
UNFPA is also working with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to promote and protect women’s rights in Haiti. This support includes care and counselling for victims of sexual violence, as well as the provision of hospital referrals and reproductive health supplies for victims of violence. The Fund is working with the Haitian National Police to prevent violence against women and to provide legal and psychological support to victims.
In the weeks immediately following the disaster, UNFPA was instrumental in carrying out – jointly with the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Data Processing (IHSI) and partner UN Agencies - a rapid needs assessment, which used support data from a previous census and recruited university students who had worked with UNFPA during similar exercises in the past. The results helped determine medium and long-term development needs.
UNFPA has also paid special attention to the needs of young people by helping organize leisure activities for a total of 30,000 11- to 16-year olds living in camps, as well as an educational programme on HIV prevention and family planning methods which aims to reach 35,000 young people this year. The Fund also mobilized young people to assemble tents, hygiene, health and reproductive supplies.
“The reproductive health needs of the population are often forgotten in the aftermath of a disaster,” said UNFPA Representative in Haiti, Igor Bosc. “Our job now is to assist Haiti in rebuilding its health sector so that it can provide better reproductive health services and social protection than ever before.”
For more information, please contact:
In Port-au-Prince: Vario Serant: firstname.lastname@example.org, +509 37014872
In New York: Omar Gharzeddine, email@example.com, +1 212 297-5028
In Panama City: Trygve Olfarnes, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +507 6400-6653
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. UNFPA -- because everyone counts.