By Staff Reporter
UNITED Nations Family Population Fund (UNFPA) has handed over reproductive health and dignity kits valued at US$189 000 to women and girls affected by Cyclone Dineo in Tsholotsho, Muzarabani and Mbire districts.
Some parts of the country were affected by floods which came as a result of high rainfall and the situation was further worsened by the tropical Cyclone Dineo in March this year forcing government to appeal for assistance from development partners.
Addressing delegates at the official handover ceremony of the kits, UNFPA Assistant Representative Abbigial Msemburi said hygiene needs of women and girls are often neglected during disasters and therefore her organisation is committed to respond to them.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as UNFPA we are committed to responding to this disaster under our mandate of ‘Leaving no one behind’, particularly those most vulnerable women and girls who are among the worst affected during humanitarian crises.
“Their sexual and reproductive health needs are easily overlooked yet these needs are often staggering. It is estimated that one in five women of childbearing age is likely to be pregnant during times of disaster. Without access to reproductive health services, these women face an increased risk of life-threatening complications.
“Many women also lose access to family planning, exposing them to unwanted pregnancies in perilous conditions. Women and young people become more vulnerable to gender-based and sexual violence, exploitation and HIV infection. And the hygiene needs of women and girls are often neglected,” she said.
UNFPA added that it conducted rapid assessments in three of the hardest-hit districts; Tsholotsho, Muzarabani and Mbire to assess the needs of these women and girls.
The assessments revealed that expectant mothers are at increased risk of maternal death or ante-post-natal complications due to the partial or complete damage of five health institutions in these three districts, as well as the loss of or damage of surgical instruments and essential reproductive health supplies.
Furthermore, the assessments found that approximately 5 000 women in these districts are in need of life-saving gender-based-violence (GBV) protection services.
Msemburi said on the basis of the findings of the assessments, they were able to successfully make an appeal for GBV and maternal health assistance from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
“On the basis of the findings, UNFPA led the CERF appeal for GBV and maternal health assistance. This appeal was successful in receiving US$189 000 to assist affected communities with reproductive health and dignity kits which we are proudly handing over today to our government partners in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and the Ministry of Health and Child care.
“These reproductive health kits will be distributed to all health facilities in the three selected districts to ensure safe delivery to 250 women over the next three months.
“All 39 rural and district health facilities will receive clinical kits for normal assisted delivery and the three district hospitals will receive referral kits, containing essential instruments and medicines for caesarean section surgery,” she said.
UNFPA added that on top of the health kits, it was also providing dignity kits for the government to distribute to 2500 women and girls in the selected districts.
The dignity kits contain essential hygiene items such as sanitary pads, towels, soap, underwear, Vaseline, combs, toothbrush and toothpaste and Zambias which will act as a mitigation strategy for GBV exposure and restore dignity to women and girls.
Speaking at the same occasion, director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health, Portia Manangazira said her ministry appreciates the continued support and look forward to future partnerships and collaborations with the aim of ensuring the health of women and young girls in Zimbabwe.
Acting Director of Gender in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs Chipo Tsinakwadi said her ministry is committed to working with partners in addressing the plight of women and girls in Zimbabwe during humanitarian situations.
Meanwhile, UNPFA has revealed that it remains committed to ensuring that the sexual and reproductive and protection needs of women and girls remain high on the humanitarian response agenda to safeguard their rights to dignity, protection and safe birth even in times of disaster.