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Responding to reproductive health needs of refugee communities

15 June 2018
L- R: Alain Sibenaler (UNFPA),Tubo Gabriel (Kituti HC IV), Julius Kamuza (OPM), Lucy Auma (Kituti HC IV), Gerald Naluwairo (UNHCR) and Paul Nsiela (UNHCR) © UNFPA/Norah Nyeko)

The UN Population Fund in Uganda has provided an assortment of Emergency Reproductive Health (ERH) kits and delivery beds to respond to the needs of mothers living in the refugee settlements in Western Uganda.

The supplies, primarily designed to facilitate the provision of priority reproductive health services to displaced populations where medical facilities may be disrupted during a crisis were handed over by the UNFPA Representative Mr Alain Sibenaler during a recent visit to Kyangwali refugee settlement.  The Acting In-Charge of Kituti HC IV, Dr. Gabriel Tubo, Mr. Julius Kamuza (Office of the Prime Minister) and Mr. Paul Nsiela (Head of Field Unit for UNHCR Kyangwali) received the supplies.

Since December 2017, Uganda has received more than 50,000 new refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. By the end of 2018, it is projected, more than 90,000 refugees are expected to be living in the settlement. 

As part of a multi-agency response (March 2018-May 2018), UNFPA provided life-saving interventions to address sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of the new arrivals.

Funded by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UNFPA supported provision of Emergency Reproductive Health (ERH) kits, dignity kits for expectant mothers that deliver at a health facility, ambulance services for referrals between Health Centres and Regional Referral Hospitals, recruitment of two midwives and material support to health facilities such as delivery beds and medical tents to a value of USD 240,775 for refugees living in Kyangwali and Kyaka II settlements.  Mr Sibenaler was there to see firsthand the impact of UNFPA’s interventions during this emergency phase.

 In appreciation of UNFPA support, the in-charge Dr. Gabriel Tubo said as the highest level facility serving Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, the delivery beds are much needed at Kituti HC IV.

 “The population here is very high and (the kits) will help mothers to deliver safely. We are so glad we have received two delivery beds because at times mothers have often delivered on the floor,” he said.

Ms. Sibanda Miriam, a Senior Midwife and Anesthetic Officer at the health centre reiterated Dr. Tubo’s remarks and highlighted the need to provide capacity –building programmes to address knowledge gaps amongst midwives working in the settlement.

 “Midwives refer mothers with obstructed labour at a late stage. These midwives need to be equipped with skills and knowledge so that they give mothers timely referrals,” she said, recommending the need for engaging skilled senior midwives to support training and mentoring younger midwives so as to build their capacities to save lives of mothers and babies in emergency situations.

More sensitization on Family Planning needed


Some of the UNFPA/CARE Community Based Volunteers during
an interaction with UNFPA.  ©UNFPA Uganda/Alain Sibenaler

During a courtesy call to the Office of the Prime Minister in Kyangwali, Assistant Settlement Officer Mr. Julius Kamuza recognized the role that UNFPA’s Implementing Partners are doing in the settlement to ensure access of Sexual and Reproductive health services and information including the benefits of family planning as more refugees continue to arrive:

 “There is a continuing need for support from partners because the new arrivals exceed more than half of the entire settlement population. This fresh batch of arrivals need a lot of sensitization,” Mr. Kamuza said.

Community Based Volunteers recognized

During the same visit, the Representative met with ten UNFPA Community Based Volunteers supported by UNFPA and CARE. In the settlements, volunteers tasks include mapping of pregnant women, providing information about family planning and assisting pregnant women to contact ambulances.

“With the UNFPA program, people know about the health facilities and where they are….working with UNFPA keeps us connected to the community,” stated one volunteer.

 Using drama to end forced marriages

A youth drama group presented a skit on forced marriage with a message to parents not to marry off their under-age daughters in exchange for dowry. The dire consequences of such marriages was demonstrated by domestic violence and maternal death that a daughter ultimately faced. The skit was watched by a captivated audience including young children who took the message home.

 

By Norah Nyeko