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Sep 18, 2015

UNFPA continues restoring maternal health after last Ebola case

UNFPA has launched a condom campaign after Ebola
UNFPA has launched a condom campaign after Ebola

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, continues to work with international, national, and local partners to rebuild health systems devastated by the Ebola outbreak in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. 

In July, UNFPA began work with regional partners to address issues that transcend national boundaries related to maternal health, including access to skilled birth attendants, family planning, adolescent sexual reproductive health, obstetric fistula, and HIV/AIDS services.

UNFPA has continued to recruit and deploy midwives to health facilities and has supplied delivery beds, examination tables and infection prevention and control materials across the region. Particular attention has been paid to Grand Cape Mount County in Liberia, which borders Sierra Leone and was one of the hardest hit counties. With a population of about 127,000, the county has only 33 health facilities and 22 midwives. UNFPA is also working with traditional birth attendants to integrate them into health facilities in order to bolster health care workforces.

UNFPA also launched a campaign aiming to reach 1.5 million people to enable access to condoms and related information. Because the Ebola virus can be sexually transmitted many months after the onset of symptoms, condom use is strongly recommended to prevent spread of the disease.  The UNFPA campaign emphasizes the role of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted infections, including Ebola and HIV, and in preventing unintended pregnancies. 

Aug 27, 2015

UNFPA Distributes Health Supplies: Myanmar, Nepal

A youth volunteer, delivers supplies in Myanmar
A youth volunteer, delivers supplies in Myanmar

This month, over a million people have been critically affected by floods and landslides in Myanmar. An estimated 300,000 households have been displaced by the crisis. This includes 62,500 women and girls of reproductive age and 12,500 pregnant women. Due to the lack of access to health care created by the flooding and consequent landslides, many of these women and girls are at higher risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, distributes clean birth kits during humanitarian emergencies.  By providing basic essentials – sterile gloves, soap, blanket, plastic sheet, razor blade, and umbilical cord tie – the kits help to prevent infection. They keep mothers and their new born babies safe and healthy until they receive full medical care.

For only $11 you can provide 3 emergency clean birthing kits to help deliver babies safely in crisis situations.

After the flooding in Myanmar, UNFPA has distributed more than 400 clean birthing kits to pregnant women in the hardest hit areas of the country.

In addition to the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, UNFPA remains dedicated to helping women and girls in areas of Nepal still devastated by the earthquake that struck the country on April 25th. So far, UNFPA has helped to deliver reproductive health supplies to assist over 61,000 people in the country.  

Work in Nepal has gone beyond the delivery of supplies as well. UNFPA has trained 130 health care personnel on the clinical management of rape and has reached over 5,000 women and girls with psychosocial counseling, a critical component of post-crisis recovery as cases of sexual violence soar in the aftermath of a disaster. Through its support of reproductive health camps, UNFPA has delivered life-saving health services to areas hardest hit by the disaster. In fact, 93 such camps have assisted over 61,000 people so far by bringing doctors, nurses, and midwives to even the most remote locations.

With over 3 million people still living in temporary shelters, more work remains.

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

In both Myanmar and Nepal, the distribution of lifesaving clean birthing kits and other essential supplies would not be possible without generous contributions from supporters like you. 

Flood affected families wait for assistance
Flood affected families wait for assistance

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Jun 26, 2015

UNFPA Works to Restore Maternal Health after Ebola

A woman and her baby rest at a UNFPA clinic
A woman and her baby rest at a UNFPA clinic

In 2014, the Ebola Virus infected over 10,000 people in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Millions more were affected. 1.1 million pregnant women were cut off from essential maternal health services. Overwhelmed by the virus, strained health systems became unable to provide reproductive health care.

UNFPA helped limit the spread of the virus through the process of contact tracing. By training community professionals to locate each person who came in contact with an infected patient, UNFPA was able to refer at-risk people to necessary testing and care. UNFPA also provided drugs, equipment and other support to health facilities throughout the region.

The outbreak is slowing down, but health systems remain disrupted. Too few women deliver under the care of skilled birth attendants, such as doctors or midwives, and many health centers lack electricity and running water. UNFPA is working with partners to improve women’s access to antenatal care, safe delivery services and postpartum care in the aftermath of the crisis.

In Liberia, UNFPA and partners distributed 2,000 solar-powered lights to health facilities throughout the country. In facilities without electricity, the lights help health workers safely deliver babies at night; previously, staff had to rely on flashlights or candlelight. “We are now able to conduct safe deliveries at night with less worry about illumination,” said Patricia Wilson, the maternal and child health supervisor at Fish Town Hospital, in River Gee County, Liberia.

During the outbreak, many pregnant women turned to traditional birth attendants for care. UNFPA has now trained many of those attendants to promote facilities-based deliveries and care so women can be adequately treated if childbirth complications arise. As a result, in Bomi county Liberia alone, facilities-based deliveries increased from 61 percent to 74 percent within the months following the outbreak.

More work is still needed to ensure the reproductive health needs of women and girls throughout the region are being met. Currently, UNFPA is working to recruit and train 500 midwives, doctors, and health workers. We are grateful for your partnership in supporting UNFPA’s efforts in West Africa to decrease maternal mortality rates and improve access to family planning in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. With your continued commitment we can ensure that women who give life don’t have to risk their own.

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