Meeting the Reproductive Health Needs of Myanmar’s Cyclone Survivors

YANGON, 1 May 2009—In the year since Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, thousands of women affected by the deadly storm have utilized reproductive health services supported by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
UNFPA has established clinics and provided outreach services in affected communities in the in the Ayeyarwady Delta and Yangon. More than 7,000 pregnant women have received antenatal care. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Fund has also distributed essential drugs, supplies and equipment to health facilities across the Delta.
UNFPA and the Myanmar Medical Association established Maternity Waiting Homes in three severely affected areas, Bogale, Dedaye and Laputta Townships. Nearly 200 women whose pregnancies were considered risky have stayed in these homes before being to hospitals for delivery.
“The maternity waiting home concept will continue, as it is very useful and indispensable for high-risk pregnant women. It really saves lives” said Dr. Ye Win, the Township Medical Officer of Laputta.
UNFPA has trained 1,600 medical and non-medical humanitarian aid workers on providing reproductive health services in crises. There has also been training on protection of women during humanitarian emergencies.
More than 50,000 “dignity kits” have been provided to people affected by Nargis, enabling them to maintain personal hygiene.
“Women need protection during an emergency situation. This project provides a secure place and offers livelihood skills for women.” said Tin Saw Kyi one of the beneficiaries from Gon NyinTan village in Laputta Township. UNFPA and its partners
In partnership with the Association Francois-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, UNFPA helped establish three “women-friendly spaces” providing psychosocial support services and livelihood skills training for women affected by Nargis.
The Fund is supporting the Department of Social Welfare to analyse the impact of the cyclone on women in a wide range of areas, including health, safety, livelihoods, education, food security, vulnerability to HIV, gender-based violence and human trafficking. This month, UNFPA and other partners will assess women’s protection needs in the Delta in order to assist affected women now and plan for future emergencies.
Australia, Germany and Norway are among the countries that have funded UNFPA’s response to Nargis. UNFPA is currently seeking an additional $3.8 million from donors to continue restoring reproductive health services and promote women’s well-being, livelihoods and empowerment in areas affected by the cyclone.
For more information:
In Yangon, Mohamed Abdel-Ahad, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar, tel. + 95 1 546 309, ahad@unfpa.org ahad@unfpa.org .
In Bangkok, William A. Ryan, tel. +66 2 687 0118, ryanw@unfpa.org ryanw@unfpa.org