You are here

The role of family planning in humanitarian contexts - Cyclone Eloise

SOFALA, Mozambique — Since making landfall in late January, Cyclone Eloise and the floods that have followed, have impacted more than 314,000 people, including 94,000 vulnerable women and girls. UNFPA Mozambique response teams have been on-the-ground in the Central Mozambique province supporting the Government of Mozambique to provide humanitarian assistance to those most affected. 

From inaccessible roads to damaged homes, schools, and hospitals, many families have asked themselves in the last week, ‘why always Sofala province?’ or claiming ‘we are now always part of a Cyclone’s path’. This is a particularly harsh reality as communities recover from Tropical Storm Chalane just a few weeks prior, and the Category four Cyclone Idai that wreaked havoc for the lives of millions in May 2019.


Monitoring of contraceptives and essential maternal health drugs in the provincial drug store. ©Epidauro Manjate/UNFPA Mozambique

In response to the continued impact and climate vulnerability, UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is prioritizing the urgent protection and health needs of women and girls that often get overlooked in natural disasters.

ENSURING SUPPLY OF COMMODITIES

Along with installing temporary health tents and distributing dignity kits, UNFPA is working with the provincial Government to ensure continuation of health and protection services, which includes a reliable supply and continued access to contraceptives and maternal health medicines, even amidst a Cyclone. 

In early February, UNFPA visited the central warehouse in Sofala’s capital city of Beira with the provincial government to monitor and assess the current availability of contraceptives and maternal health commodities to avoid risks of stock-outs. Many of the contraceptives in the warehouse came from funding and procurement support from UNFPA.

UNFPA estimates that the Cyclone impacted nearly 75,450 women of reproductive age; without urgent intervention, more than 21,570 of those women who require contraceptives face risks of unintended or unwanted pregnancies if they are unable to access family planning. 

The current amount of contraceptives and maternal health medication needs to be increased so that every woman and girl can benefit and is not left behind. We need to ensure at least a three-month stock availability,”

shares Manuel Ticha, focal point from the Provincial Health Government of Sofala. 

Even before a Cyclone, 25% of pregnancies amongst girls 15-19 years of age in Mozambique were unwanted or unplanned. UNFPA is working closely with the Government and partners to ensure a steady flow of family planning supplies, as a way of reducing maternal and infant mortality by providing dual protection from pregnancy and the transmission of HIV and other STIs. 

With more than 86 health centers damaged, the risk of timely and accessible services becomes compromised. In a humanitarian setting, women and girls of reproductive age should not risk losing the ability to plan their families and future and protect their health and bodies.


UNFPA joins Provincial Health Directorate in the monitoring of essential health commodities in response to Cyclone Eloise. ©Epidauro Manjate/UNFPA Mozambique

"We are seeing an increase in the use of long-lasting contraceptive methods, like the implant, which is affordable, reversible, safe, and effective. This is helping to support women and girls’ ability to plan their lives and future - giving them one less thing to worry about as they recover from Cyclone Eloise and Tropical Storm Chalane,” says Hidayat Kassim, Humanitarian Coordinator in Sofala province.

DELIVERING REMOTE-BASED CARE

Once the stocks of contraceptives are counted, and inventory takes place, essential items start getting distributed to health centers throughout the province to ensure equitable access for vulnerable women and girls. Recognizing, however, that many health centers have been damaged and destroyed, health care teams have started using mobile brigades to provide remote-based care.


UNFPA visits a mobile health clinic and mobile brigades in accommodation centers for Cyclone-affected women. ©Hidayat Kassim/UNFPA Mozambique

Health care teams, consisting of medical technicians and maternal and child health nurses, are traveling to accommodation centers and resettlement areas, to directly provide family planning and maternal and child health services for thousands of displaced women and girls unable to travel.

These mobile teams are providing life-saving sexual and reproductive health services directly to Cyclone-affected women and girls, a critical step to prevent unwanted pregnancies and obstetric complications.