Safe pregnancy and childbirth, hygiene and dignity: UNFPA’s humanitarian response to the Lao dam collapse focuses on the special needs of women and girls

 
2 August 2018, Vientiane, Lao PDR
–The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, has provided the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic crucial supplies to suLao buttonpport the humanitarian response in the wake of last week’s dam collapse in Attapeu Province, with a particular focus on the special needs of women and girls who comprise about half of the affected population.

These supplies include UNFPA’s trademark Dignity Kits containing essential women’s hygiene and safety items, as well as Clean Delivery Packs and Clean Delivery Kits to support safer pregnancy and childbirth. The supplies, pre-positioned at a warehouse in Brisbane under an arrangement UNFPA has with Australia, were made available in less than 48 hours after the Lao PDR Government requested international assistance, arriving in Pakse via a Royal Australian Air Force plane July 27 as part of a wider shipment of relief materials.

According to the latest Situation Report from the United Nations in Lao PDR, out of about 13,000 people affected by the dam collapse, some 6400 are women. In humanitarian crises globally, women and girls are the most vulnerable, including those who are pregnant or have just given birth. The risk of gender-based violence is also exacerbated in such crises.


“On behalf of all of us at UNFPA, I extend my heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family members, homes and livelihoods,” said Frederika Meijer, the UNFPA Representative in Lao PDR. “Natural disasters are often unexpected. But what’s so important, yet so often neglected, are the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls under the wider humanitarian response, as well as the need to protect against and respond to gender-based violence in shelters, camps or anywhere amid crisis.”

The immediate UNFPA emergency relief supplies include 1,350 Dignity Kits; Clean Delivery Packs for birth attendants covering 10,000 of populations; and Clean Delivery Kit for health facility to support number of birth that will happen. Technical staffs from the UNFPA Lao PDR country office and UNFPA headquarters who specialize in emergency response have also been deployed in Attapeu Province since last week.

Dignity Kits contain hygiene supplies such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, sanitary pads and underclothes, to help women and girls of reproductive age maintain proper hygiene and move around more freely so as to better access essential aid.

Clean Delivery Kits include a bar of soap, clear plastic sheet, razor blade, an umbilical cord tie and latex gloves to assist with childbirth in crisis situations. By providing the most basic essentials, these kits help pregnant women who are unable to get to a health facility in time to give birth, as well as assist skilled birth attendants to support women during childbirth in a challenging environment.

“With the extra support provided by UNFPA on the ground, we have been able to assess the situation even more quickly, especially regarding the sexual and reproductive health needs of women,” said Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, the Lao PDR Minister of Health. “This is enabling us to provide swift and effective assistance to survivors as we forge ahead at this challenging time.”

For more information, including media queries, please contact:
Kay amphone Singhalath: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / +856 20 77776597

For the latest UN Lao Humanitarian Response Situation Report, go to: www.la.one.un.org

Visit UNFPA Website at: www.lao.unfpa.org

 

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