IPPF – SPRINT helps keep women and girls safe

3rd March 2016

IPPF Regional Director Nora Murat meets Pita Tagicakirewa, Acting High Commissioner of Fiji

International relief effort in Fiji continues as SPRINT, IPPF’s humanitarian initiative, responds to women’s and girls’ special needs in the wake of TC Winston.

 The aftermath of the cyclone puts women at an even greater risk of sexual or physical assault, even as they work to rebuild their homes and livelihood. IPPF –SPRINT works together with the Reproductive and Family Health Association of Fiji (RFHAF), an IPPF Member Association, to ensure that women and girls receive support, particularly sexual and reproductive health services and information.

 “Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a significant public health need in all communities, especially those facing emergencies. In emergency situations, there is lack of or limited access to SRH services. Based on an article featured by UNICEF, Avalon Buksh gave birth to healthy twins in the middle of the Category 5 cyclone.  The situation called for clean delivery kits to help reduce the rate of maternal and new-born mortality and mobility (the occurrence of disease/illness in the mother or baby). These special needs and services is what IPPF –SPRINT is ever ready to provide,” said Nora Murat, Regional Director for IPPF ESEAOR.

 “That being said, IPPF-SPRINT implements the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Reproductive Health, a SPHERE standard for essential health service, in Western and Northern Fiji. MISP is a coordinated set of priority activities for reducing SRH-related illnesses and deaths in times of emergency,” she added.

 In crisis situations like these, there could be an increase of life-threatening complications resulting in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), exploitation and abuse leading to higher rate of unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortion and STI’s while access to health care becomes difficult. While the government responds to restoration of services, IPPF-SPRINT will help bridge the gap to prevent and manage the consequences of sexual violence, reduce STI including HIV transmission and to prevent excess illnesses and deaths.

 Young women and children become susceptible and vulnerable to gender-based violence. A scenario could play out something like this; a girl is asked by her mother to fetch some water from a nearby water tank. During the brief journey, a distance of approximately 200m, the girl is exposed to the risk of being molested, sexually harassed or raped.

 IPPF –SPRINT also conducts counselling sessions and post-rape treatment services for victims of sexual violence; the risk of sexual violence towards both women and men has proved to increase during crisis situations.

 “I am thankful for the teamwork of IPPF – SPRINT and RFHAF for working together to deliver essential SRH relief supplies with speed and efficiency. SRH services and the dignity kit will definitely be very essential, especially those in the remote area without access to the basic SRH needs such as basic garments, sanitary pads, medicines and more” said Pita Tagicakirewa, Acting High Commissioner of Fiji