Ministry of Health, Airlangga University, with the support of UNFPA, have drafted practical guidelines on RH in emergency settings

The Ministry of Health and the Faculty of Community Health of the Surabaya-based Airlangga University, with the support of UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) have drafted a Practical Guideline on Reproductive Health in Emergency Settings in the effort to reduce the vulnerabilities of affected communities through the prevention of the highly preventable maternal deaths, unwanted pregnancy, the spread of HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence (GBV).

While stressing that reproductive health (RH) is about basic health and psychosocial need, Dr. Henia Dakak from Humanitarian Response Unit at UNFPA New York pointed out that RH is part of human rights and that the needs for RH services tend to increase in emergency areas. She made the remarks during a national seminar on RH in emergency settings, jointly held by UNFPA and Ministry of Health to gather inputs from the stakeholders to the draft practical guideline.

The draft practical guideline is part of the efforts to implement the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) in order to ensure the availability of basic, initial reproductive health services during the emergency phase. It lists equipment, supplies and step by step actions for humanitarian workers in allowing access to life-saving maternal care for pregnant women, family planning supplies to prevent unwanted pregnancy and to prevent HIV/AIDS and GBV in emergency settings.

Indonesia is a disaster and conflict-prone country which has been hit by a series of manmade and natural disasters, like Tsunami in Aceh and West Java, earthquake in Yogyakarta and conflict like in Poso, Central Sulawesi and Ambon. The disrupted infrastructures and reproductive health services in emergency setting deprived pregnant women of the services they need, while the weakened security, protection and socio and cultural values increases the likelihood of gender-based violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Experiences in Indonesia show that RH issues and services are often neglected in the emergency phase. ”RH is often not included in the ‘emergency health responses’ because it is not considered as ‘emergency’. This further increases the vulnerabilities of the affected communities,” said UNFPA Representative Dr. Zahidul Huque.

For effective RH response, main players need to be equipped with knowledge, skills and means to do so properly and the practical guidelines will contribute to the disaster preparedness contingency plan, explained Dr. Melania Hidayat UNFPA National Programme Officer for Reproductive Health.

Learning from experiences in recent disasters, Dewi Marhaeni Herawati of the Family Health Division from District Health Office in Bantul, Yogyakarta stressed the importance of periodic emergency drill, improved data collection, dissemination of emergency standard procedures and strengthening inter-sectoral collaboration.

“The existing midwives should be empowered so they can be mobilized for effective service provision to affected community members. They too can be involved in prevention of GBV,” said Suriaty Mahmud of the Banda Aceh District Health Office.

On HIV/AIDS prevention, Mukhotib MD, Director of Yogyakarta-chapter Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI) said “Apart from basic information about HIV/AIDS, we need to educate members of community to understand the relation between violence/conflict/emergency and the potentially increased exposure to HIV/AIDS.
We also need to continuously work to eliminate social stigma attached to people with HIV/AIDS and other marginalized/vulnerable groups.”

For further information, please contact:
Maria Endah Hulupi
UNFPA Communications Officer
0812 1115 116

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