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Philippines: UN tackling maternal health issues in areas affected by tropical storm

Article / Review by on December 23, 2011 – 7:34 pmNo Comments

Philippines: UN tackling maternal health issues in areas affected by tropical storm

UNFPA is working to provide essential reproductive-health supplies to help more than 12,000 pregnant and lactating women in evacuation centresUNFPA is working to provide essential reproductive-health supplies to help more than 12,000 pregnant and lactating women in evacuation centres

The needs of more than 12,000 pregnant and lactating women in areas affected by tropical storm Washi in southern Philippines are the main focus of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which said today it is mobilizing funds and supplies to provide medical services.

At least 22 village health centres have been damaged or totally washed away by the floods, and pregnant women in labour are currently being referred to regional hospitals, which are already overcrowded with regular patients.

UNFPA is currently seeking $1.4 million to help affected populations and has already rallied youth volunteers to organize young people in evacuation centres to help raise awareness about available medical services and to monitor gender-based violence.Pregnant women in labour are currently being referred to regional hospitals, which are already overcrowded with regular patients.

According to a news release issued by UNFPA, youth volunteers are “collecting vital data about pregnant, post-partum and lactating women, as well as other vital statistics such as the number of young people in these centres.”

UNFPA is also working in collaboration with the Government and local organizations to conduct psycho-social counselling and setting up emergency referral systems for survivors of gender-based violence.

In addition, the agency will distribute clean delivery kits to some 8,500 pregnant women to ensure safe deliveries. Each kit includes soap, a clean razor blade and string to cut and tie the umbilical cord, a plastic sheet and a blanket to protect the baby from hypothermia.

Medical teams composed of doctors, midwives and other health workers are also being deployed, as well as reproductive and health care kits. Nearly 35,000 hygiene kits will be distributed to affected women and girls, including 4,200 mothers who are breastfeeding, in and around the evacuation centres. Kits include basic sanitary supplies, such as soap, changing garment, towels, sanitary pads and toilet paper.

A number of UN agencies are providing assistance on the ground, including the World Health Organization (WHO), which has sent emergency supplies to prevent water-related diseases. These include 416,000 bottles of water purification tablets, 20,000 doses of oral rehydration salts and 4,000 containers of zinc sulphate for treatment of diarrhoea and 612 litres of hand sterilizer.

According to the latest figures released by the Philippine Government, over 640,000 people have been affected by the tropical storm, known locally as Sendong, which ravaged the country last weekend.

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About UNFPA

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

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About World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

World Health Organization (WHO)

In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defence against transnational threats.

WHO fulfils its objectives through its core functions:

  • providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  • shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  • setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  • articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
  • providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity
  • monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.

The WHO agenda

WHO operates in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing landscape. The boundaries of public health action have become blurred, extending into other sectors that influence health opportunities and outcomes. WHO responds to these challenges using a six-point agenda. The six points address two health objectives, two strategic needs, and two operational approaches. The overall performance of WHO will be measured by the impact of its work on women’s health and health in Africa.

1. Promoting development

During the past decade, health has achieved unprecedented prominence as a key driver of socioeconomic progress, and more resources than ever are being invested in health. Yet poverty continues to contribute to poor health, and poor health anchors large populations in poverty. Health development is directed by the ethical principle of equity: Access to life-saving or health-promoting interventions should not be denied for unfair reasons, including those with economic or social roots. Commitment to this principle ensures that WHO activities aimed at health development give priority to health outcomes in poor, disadvantaged or vulnerable groups. Attainment of the health-related Millennium Development Goals, preventing and treating chronic diseases and addressing the neglected tropical diseases are the cornerstones of the health and development agenda.

2. Fostering health security

Shared vulnerability to health security threats demands collective action. One of the greatest threats to international health security arises from outbreaks of emerging and epidemic-prone diseases. Such outbreaks are occurring in increasing numbers, fuelled by such factors as rapid urbanization, environmental mismanagement, the way food is produced and traded, and the way antibiotics are used and misused. The world’s ability to defend itself collectively against outbreaks has been strengthened since June 2007, when the revised International Health Regulations came into force.

3. Strengthening health systems

For health improvement to operate as a poverty-reduction strategy, health services must reach poor and underserved populations. Health systems in many parts of the world are unable to do so, making the strengthening of health systems a high priority for WHO. Areas being addressed include the provision of adequate numbers of appropriately trained staff, sufficient financing, suitable systems for collecting vital statistics, and access to appropriate technology including essential drugs.

4. Harnessing research, information and evidence

Evidence provides the foundation for setting priorities, defining strategies, and measuring results. WHO generates authoritative health information, in consultation with leading experts, to set norms and standards, articulate evidence-based policy options and monitor the evolving global heath situation.

5. Enhancing partnerships

WHO carries out its work with the support and collaboration of many partners, including UN agencies and other international organizations, donors, civil society and the private sector. WHO uses the strategic power of evidence to encourage partners implementing programmes within countries to align their activities with best technical guidelines and practices, as well as with the priorities established by countries.

6. Improving performance

WHO participates in ongoing reforms aimed at improving its efficiency and effectiveness, both at the international level and within countries. WHO aims to ensure that its strongest asset – its staff – works in an environment that is motivating and rewarding. WHO plans its budget and activities through results-based management, with clear expected results to measure performance at country, regional and international levels.

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> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

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* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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