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Jan 23, 2017

UNFPA Provides Relief After Hurricane Matthew

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, continues to work with partners in Haiti to rebuild the health systems devastated by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.

In October, UNFPA began relief efforts in the most affected areas of Haiti as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Before this disaster, women and girls already had difficulty in accessing high-quality maternal health services. Haiti suffers from the highest rate of maternal mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Prior to Hurricane Matthew, only 33 percent of the 36 emergency obstetric and neonatal care (EmONC) services were functional, with a total staff of approximately 35 midwives. In Grande Anse, which ultimately became the worst-hit district, only 18 percent of births were assisted by trained medical professionals before this disaster. The maternal mortality rate was already extremely high, with 380 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 (WHO). Only about 31 percent of women use modern contraceptive methods, and the total fertility rate (TFR) stands at 3.5 children per woman. In 2012, 64 percent of Haitian women were still giving birth at home without medical assistance. These trends in maternal health continued up until Hurricane Matthew

Since the Hurricane struck, UNFPA has focused its efforts in this crisis by providing reproductive health kits, sending UNFPA-trained midwives for 17,000 pregnant women, 2450 dignity kits, 1000 cooking kits, and 1000 emergency food kits to women and girls. In response, 157 temporary shelters have been set up in the most affected areas. These efforts have been focused on emergency relief in order to prevent maternal health from becoming worse as a result of this disaster.

UNFPA’s long term efforts will be concentrated on preventing the already high rate of maternal deaths from significantly increasing as a result of this crisis. By preventing further increases in maternal mortality, UNFPA hopes that these efforts will continue to decrease maternal mortality over time.

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Nov 1, 2016

Safe Birth During Hurricane Matthew

Marie delivered 6 babies the night of theHurricane
Marie delivered 6 babies the night of theHurricane

Nurse Marie-Lyrette was the only midwife on duty in the maternity unity of St. Antoine Hospital in Jeremie, Haiti when Hurricane Matthew struck. 

That night, Nurse Marie-Lyrette safely delivered six babies by flashlight. “I tried to reassure them,” she said, even as she was wracked with fear herself. Still, she said, “I had to stay in the hospital to work. My professional conscience wouldn’t have let me leave. I couldn’t have left the women there to die.”Fortunately, she reported that her maternity unit saw no deaths on that perilous evening, but not all maternal units were so lucky.

 23 out of 26 health facilities in Grand’Anse and Nippes counties were affected by the storm, including Nurse Marie-Lyrette’s facility. Of the 11 facilities in Grand'Anse alone, two were completely destroyed, two were closed, none have power or water, and all require health workers. 

 Currently, Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, and as a result of this recent disaster, the rate of maternal mortality is at risk of becoming even worse. Women and girls in Haiti now face a lack of access to proper health care, they risk increased exposure to gender based violence (GBV) and diseases such as cholera and Zika. To address these problems, UNFPA has begun distributing clean delivery kits to the most affected areas to ensure that women and girls have access to care and that this rate of maternal mortality does not increase.

 UNFPA’s clean delivery kits contain basic items necessary for a safe birth, including sterile gloves, a blanket, a plastic sheet, and soap. For only $11 you can help UNFPA provide 3 emergency clean delivery kits to women without access to maternal health services.

 The health workers who remain face challenging times ahead. Among the population affected by the hurricane, there are more than 546,000 women and girls of reproductive age, who will all need quality health care. In the affected areas, more than 13,650 pregnant women are set to give birth in the next three months. 

A donation of only $25 can provide one woman in a humanitarian setting such as the Haiti with a dignity kit that provides hygiene essentials for six months, ensuring that she is able to maintain her dignity and health in emergency situations.

 “Our urgent task is to protect the health and rights of women and girls, and to ensure that their basic needs, which are often overlooked in humanitarian situations, are quickly met,” said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.

Aug 3, 2016

UNFPA Ensures Safe Deliveries for Women Fleeing Conflict in Eastern Ukraine

Elena had to flee from her home in Eastern Ukraine
Elena had to flee from her home in Eastern Ukraine

Two years into the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, parts of the region still experience heavy, often deadly bombardments with mortars and grenades. Fearing for their safety, thousands have fled non-government controlled areas for governmental-controlled cities. Months after the second anniversary of the conflict, bombardments of the region continue and stability has yet to return despite ceasefire.

In her home town of Makiivka, Eastern Ukraine, Elena, 31, found out she was pregnant with her second child. Fearing for their family’s safety and Elena’s ability to access maternity care, Elena and her husband decided to flee. Reaching the government-controlled city of Kramatorsk, Elena met Dr. Astakhov who had also fled his home. Dr. Astakhov’s clinic, supported by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, scheduled a necessary Caesarean-section for her delivery—a procedure she likely would not have had access to in Makiivka—and Elena was able to give birth to a healthy boy.

The unstable situation has caused many pregnant women to risk the journey to government-controlled cites, like Kramatorsk, where they can deliver their babies safely and receive official birth certificates. Yet, the conflict has also caused shortages in staff and medical supplies. Fortunately, UNFPA has provided delivery kits to government-controlled parts of Eastern Ukraine that have been used for over 12,000 normal deliveries and 8,500 complicated deliveries.

UNFPA’s clean delivery kits contain basic items necessary for a safe birth, including sterile gloves, a blanket, a plastic sheet, and soap. For only $15 you can help UNFPA provide 3 emergency clean delivery kits to women without access to maternal health services.

Additionally, UNFPA has delivered 38,000 kits for obstetric-gynecologic check-ups, 2.5 million condoms, 40,000 pregnancy tests and two infant incubators, as well as supporting clinics like Dr. Astakhov’s to help more women free of charge. In January, UNFPA successful arranged the first delivery of supplies to non-government controlled territory and is finding opportunities to bring similar supplies to other regions under non-government control.

UNFPA also provides dignity kits to women in disaster. Dignity kits contain items such as underwear, soap, a comb, and feminine hygiene supplies. For $25 you can provide these essential items to a woman for six months.

Many women travel to deliver in this safe space
Many women travel to deliver in this safe space

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