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International Planned Parenthood Federation Meets Reproductive Health Needs of Rohingyas

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Voice from the field

Rehana Begum, is 25-year-old, has three children and is eight months pregnant. Her village in Myanmar was burnt and so the village elders decided to move to Bangladesh. Six months pregnant Rehana and her family had to walk for 15 days to escape the violence in Myanmar.

This is the first time that she has been ever checked by a doctor in any of her pregnancies and provided with antenatal care. She is trying to cope with a life full of uncertainties.

In Myanmar, Rehana had heard that there are some medicines which avoid pregnancy although she has no knowledge about any family planning method. After being counselled at the IPPF camp, she would now like to adopt a family planning method and wants to get her husband for counselling too, as she feels she has optimal family size.

Rehana Begum says ‘I was not aware of family planning methods earlier, I am happy to know that I have options of controlling my family size. I would want to adopt a family planning method after my delivery’.

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) South Asia Regional Office is providing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to the displaced Rohingya population in Bangladesh.

IPPF conducted situation assessment with the Rohingya community on accessibility of medical assistance and prioritisation of the SRH needs among the women.

Through a field response team, comprising of Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics and Youth Volunteers well versed in humanitarian response, IPPF provided SRH and emergency medical services to pregnant women, new mothers, new-borns, men and young adolescent girls.

IPPF’s client records at the health camps indicate that:

• 96% of the total clients were female, and

• 77% of the total clients were under 25 years of age.

• more than 46% of the clients who received STI services are under the age of 25 years

This reflects the emerging SRH needs of young women, girls, men and boys in the current crisis. IPPF has distributed clean delivery kits for health personnel to safely manage child-birth and provide post-natal care.

Mr. Varun Kumar Anand, Regional Director (Acting), IPPF South Asia Region stated that ''Every woman and girl has a right to dignity, they must have access to health care and should be protected against any form of violence. IPPF’s community engagement, indicate low literacy on reproductive and health issues and highlights reports of gender-based violence (GBV) faced by several women and girls while fleeing from Myanmar. Hence, IPPF is working towards establishing a stronger linkage for providing reproductive health, family planning, GBV services, which are often neglected during crisis settings. He added that IPPF is committed to ensuring increased funding and leveraging support from various stakeholders involved in the response to Bangladesh's Rohingya crisis”.

Field teams have been mobilised to create awareness about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control methods. IPPF has partnered with various local agencies for provision of these services as well as distribution of the kits and medical supplies.

Upcoming priorities:

• Building stronger partnership with other local CSOs and intersectoral agencies.

• Mobilizing additional doctors, midwives and paramedics for continual and timely service provision.

• Strengthening capacity of the service providers on Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for effective service delivery and monitoring framework.

• Identifying potential funding sources to expand the scope of service provision and increased medical supplies and equipments.

• Strengthening the referral and linkage mechanisms for service delivery.

IPPF is a leading international non-government organisation which is both a service provider and an advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights in more than 170 countries. IPPF’s South Asia Regional Office, works across 9 South Asian Countries viz – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan & Sri Lanka.

For more information please write to Abhardwaj@ippf.org