UNSW researchers are contributing to a program that aims to reduce disability and death in post-crisis situations. The program was launched this week by the Parliamentary Secretary for Overseas Development Assistance, Bob McMullan.
Funded by AusAID, the $3 million three-year initiative promises to reduce disability and death associated with sexual and reproductive ill health associated with natural disasters and conflicts in the Asia-Pacific.
"Including sexual and reproductive health care in emergency responses is crucial for the overall well-being of persons surviving crises, especially women and girls," said Associate Professor Anna Whelan, from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, who is involved in the project.
"Research has shown that pregnancy and childbirth-related complications are the most common causes of death and disability amongst women in many situations of forced displacement," she said.
Known as SPRINT, the key element of the initiative will be to increase the regional capacity of organizations to deliver the "Minimum Initial Service Package" (MISP) for reproductive health in crisis situations.
This package includes a set of priority interventions to be implemented in the early phases of a natural disaster or conflict. It aims to reduce excessive mother and newborn deaths and disability, decrease transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, prevent sexual violence and provide care and support to survivors.
Professor Whelan will be involved in monitoring and evaluation of the program. Three PhD students will also be involved in researching various aspects of the program and its effectiveness.
The SPRINT initiative will be coordinated by the International Planned Parenthood Federation for the East, Southeast Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNSW and the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance (ARHA).