Philippines: UN tackling maternal health issues in areas affected by tropical storm
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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> United Nations (UN).
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