MANILA, Philippines —One month after Typhoon Haiyan, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, calls on the international community for greater support to meet the needs of 3.7 million women and girls of childbearing age who need special assistance in the aftermath of the disaster.
There are at least 900 deliveries per day in the typhoon-hit areas, and the figure is expected to rise. Out of these, almost 140 will experience life-threatening complications. The Capiz provincial hospital reported two maternal deaths because blood transfusion units were not available following the typhoon. To prevent deaths and morbidity, UNFPA is supporting government efforts to rebuild and re-equip birthing facilities that have been damaged or totally destroyed.
See UNFPA video: Making Delivery Safe Again After Haiyan
“Women and girls are carrying the burden of this tragedy,” said Genevieve Ah Sue, UNFPA’s Representative in the Philippines. “Targeted support to women is one of the best ways to ensure the health, security and well-being of families.”
As Tacloban City is rebuilding itself, UNFPA equipped the two remaining functional hospitals and three rural health units with equipment and medicines to ensure safe deliveries and for the clinical management of rape for up to 60,000 women. Medical equipment turned over to the two hospitals will allow them to perform Caesarean section deliveries.
Similar equipment and supplies, including clean delivery kits for women in the last trimester of pregnancy and delivery kits for midwives, have been turned over to public health facilities in Eastern Samar and Roxas City. Reproductive health medical missions have been conducted in evacuation camps and continue to take place in communities in the hardest-hit areas.
UNFPA is also concerned about the increased vulnerability of women and girls, especially those without adequate shelter, to domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and trafficking.
Prior to the disaster, in the eight affected provinces, an estimated 375,000 women and girls between ages 15 and 49 would have experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. Without adequate protection measures after Haiyan, this number could increase by nearly 20 per cent, or about 65,000.
Female police officers play a vital role in the prevention and management of cases of gender-based violence. In Tacloban, for example, of the 1,300 police officers deployed to the city after the typhoon, only two are women. Humanitarian agencies are working with government authorities to increase the number of female police officers in all affected areas.
UNFPA requires $16.6 million for lifesaving reproductive health care, including prevention of gender-based violence, to respond to the needs of women and girls in 22 priority municipalities. Approximately $30 million is necessary to provide assistance in all affected areas.
This plan includes the creation of “women-friendly spaces” in temporary shelters that will serve as a venue for women to access information and services related to gender-based violence. The training and deployment of female police officers in 196 municipalities will also be prioritized.
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