Ensuring access to lifesaving reproductive health supplies in emergencies

18 July 2017
UNFPA Representative Mr. Alain Sibenaler hands over the supplies to Mr. Douglas Asiimwe of the Office of the Prime Minister flanked by Ms. Vastha Kibirige and Ms. Joyce Tamale of UHMG. ©UNFPA/Martha Songa

Over two million women, men and young people in refugee settlements in seven  districts of Uganda will benefit from an assortment of supplies to help meet their reproductive health needs. UNFPA Uganda recently handed over equipment and medicines worth USD 64,000 (Uganda shillings 224,000,000) to the government through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The ceremony took place at the offices of Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG), contracted by Ministry of Health to clear the commodities at customs and with the National Drug Authority and then store and distribute them.

While handing over the supplies, the UNFPA Representative, Mr. Alain Sibenaler said the supplies were only a small part of UNFPA’s contribution to the national response to the humanitarian situation in Uganda. “Pregnancy doesn’t end during humanitarian situations. Women and girls need special protection during this time and should be supported to access sexual and reproductive health services and reduce the risk of maternal mortality,” he said.

The supplies are intended to support over 2 million refugees and host communities over a period of three months. They will be distributed to Adjumani, Arua, Kiryandongo, Kitgum, Lamwo, Moyo, and Yumbe districts.

Mr. Sibenaler commended the strong leadership of the Government of Uganda and UHMG for the great work to ensure distribution of the supplies to the last mile. He pledged UNFPA’s commitment to work closely with the two agencies to ensure the supplies get to the hospitals, Health Centers and eventually to the individuals they are meant to benefit.

 Ms. Vastha Kibirige, who represented the Ministry of Health appreciated UNFPA for the support provided in both long term development and emergency response, describing UNFPA as a long time and dependable partner in the area of sexual and reproductive health.

Mr. Douglas Asiimwe the Principal Refugees Protection Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister noted that the government incorporated refugee protection in the National Development Plan.  He thanked UNFPA for the support, noting that such support is critical given the ever-growing refugee numbers.

UNFPA work in humanitarian settings

Uganda is home to about 1.2 million refugees, the majority of whom are women and children from South Sudan. As a key strategy to ensure safe births and ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services in humanitarian settings, UNFPA procures and facilitates distribution of emergency reproductive health kits to health facilities in settlements, serving both refugee and host communities.  UNFPA also supports recruitment of midwives to provide reproductive health services including family planning and supports distribution of dignity kits for new mothers to ensure safe and clean deliveries. In addition, UNFPA works with partners to conduct pregnancy mapping; ensuring that pregnant women in refugee settlements are referred to facilities for antenatal care; and supports ambulance services to ensure that women who get complications during childbirth are referred to higher level facilities for emergency obstetric care.

By Martha Songa