UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and the Jamaica Red Cross have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which will see both organizations collaborating to respond to the health needs of the population in emergency situations.
Under the agreement, which came into effect on July 19, 2005 and will expire on December 31, 2006, UNFPA will provide the Red Cross with Nine Hundred Eighty Two Thousand, Five Hundred Jamaican Dollars (JA$982,500.00) for the procurement and preparation of a total of 750 hygiene kits.
Two hundred and fifty of these kits will fill a previously unmet need identified by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), for persons displaced by hurricanes Dennis and Emily, while the remaining five hundred will form part of a pre-positioned supply.
Mr. Harold Robinson, UNFPA Representative, Office of the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean , officially handed over the first set of 250 kits to Mr. Oswald Burchenson, President of the Jamaica Red Cross, on Monday August 15, 2005 .
As part of the agreement, the pre-positioned supplies will be stored at the Jamaica Red Cross National Headquarters warehouse. This means that Jamaica will become a hub for UNFPA's emergency response and assistance, enabling UNFPA to respond quickly in the event of an emergency/natural disaster in any of the countries covered by the Kingston office.
In addition to the hygiene kits, UNFPA, in a direct response to the sexual and reproductive health needs of the population in emergency situations has also procured reproductive health emergency kits, valued at just under Three Million Jamaican Dollars (JA$2,920,050.00) for deployment to countries falling under its jurisdiction.
'The issue of sexual and reproductive health is an important one, especially in the aftermath of disasters and emergencies" explains UNFPA Representative, Mr. Harold Robinson, adding that ''by providing these reproductive health emergency kits, the UNFPA is attempting to save lives by reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS, and preventing unwanted pregnancies among persons who are displaced during disasters such as hurricanes''.
Deputy Director General of the Jamaica Red Cross, Lois Hue is upbeat about partnering with the UNFPA. "This agreement is extremely relevant at this time'' she says, "since it will allow us to address an area that is usually overlooked by Relief Agencies in responding to disasters. We are indeed pleased that we could be able to partner with UNFPA in addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population."
The hygiene kits, which bear the logo of both organizations, include towels, wash cloths, soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, razors and other reproductive health items.