The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING -

to some wa­ter from a nearby wa­ter tank be­cause the mother has to care for her baby.

“Dur­ing this brief ‘jour­ney’, a dis­tance of say 200m, the girl is ex­posed to the risk of be­ing mo­lested, sex­u­ally ha­rassed or raped. In fact, we are slowly re­ceiv­ing re­ports on some of th­ese cases now postHaiyan, but a lot tends to go un­re­ported un­til much later.”

Sprint’s clin­i­cal man­age­ment ser­vice helps rape sur­vivors cope through sup­port­ive coun­selling and of­fer­ing emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion (in the first few days af­ter a rape) as well as the preven­tion and treat­ment of sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases, says Azrul.

“For women not wish­ing to con­ceive nat­u­rally, we have con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods avail­able which em­pow­ers them to have a choice in un­equal power re­la­tion­ships.

“Women tend to be more prag­matic when con­sid­er­ing if the time is suit­able to have more ba­bies, but they may face re­sis­tance from their hus­bands who may in­sist on un­pro­tected sex,” ex­plains Azrul.

Th­ese ser­vices and kits are called the Min­i­mum Ini­tial Ser­vice Pack­age for Re­pro­duc­tive Health in Crises and can be di­rectly em­ployed to ad­dress the dif­fer­ent sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health needs in times of cri­sis.

Ac­cord­ing to Azrul, Sprint also pro­vides train­ing for med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers and field vol­un­teers con­tin­u­ously so that they are well-pre­pared for de­ploy­ment of the kits in the event of a dis­as­ter.

De­spite this, ca­pac­ity-build­ing is never enough due to the loss of man­power dur­ing a dis­as­ter, as was the case with Typhoon Haiyan.

“This re­mains a huge chal­lenge when the very peo­ple who are med­i­cally-skilled and trained per­ish them­selves or suf­fer such ex­ten­sive trauma that they have to re­build their own lives.

“Our train­ing fo­cuses on help­ing health pro­fes­sion­als make do with the bare min­i­mum in a dev­as­tated en­vi­ron­ment that is stripped off any med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties or clin­ics. It can be over­whelm­ing even for them to work in makeshift ar­eas de­void of their nec­es­sary tools,” Azrul says.

In the cur­rent case of the af­ter­math of Haiyan, lo­gis­tics have also been tax­ing since the af­fected ar­eas are out­ly­ing is­lands, all ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­persed. While aid and me­dia at­ten­tion was im­me­di­ately fo­cused on Ta­cloban city of Leyte prov­ince, it was only later that the au­thor­i­ties grasped the mag­ni­tude of de­struc­tion sus­tained by other prov­inces like Sa­mar, East­ern Sa­mar, Cebu and Iloilo, where ac­cess is a ma­jor hur­dle.

Re­ports that trick­led in have de­scribed stag­ger­ing im­pair­ment to sea­ports in some of th­ese prov­inces, so ships are un­able to berth to de­liver sup­plies. The only pos­si­ble mode of de­liv­ery is via he­li­copters, says Azrul.

“In terms of lo­gis­tics and co­or­di­na­tion, this typhoon is to some ex­tent a lot tougher than the 2004 Asian Tsunami, not­with­stand­ing the higher death toll in Acheh (In­done­sia). Back then, mil­i­tary aid ships could still off­load com­modi­ties on one land mass, Su­ma­tra, un­like now in the Philip­pines where the prov­inces are far apart.

“In some sit­u­a­tions, the pre-dis­as­ter cen­sus of pop­u­la­tions have been to­tally de­stroyed, which makes it im­pos­si­ble to ac­count for peo­ple liv­ing in a vil­lage or com­mu­nity in an area. And some­times, peo­ple who re­quire th­ese med­i­cal ser­vices are ‘hid­den’ sim­ply be­cause they are un­able to travel to the med­i­cal out­posts and field hos­pi­tals,” says Azrul.

This is Sprint’s fourth re­sponse to the Philip­pines just this year af­ter the coun­try faced smaller-scale dis­as­ters ear­lier.

Dr Su­ba­tra says an eval­u­a­tion and post-emer­gency re­view will be con­ducted at the end of this project im­ple­men­ta­tion to gauge the ef­fec­tive­ness of the ground ser­vices in aid­ing vic­tims.

“We are glad to see this pro­gramme al­ready in­te­grated by the Philip­pines into its health emer­gency re­sponse sys­tem, with the help of our part­ner, the Fam­ily Plan­ning Or­gan­i­sa­tion of the Philip­pines. It is our hope that more coun­tries will adopt sim­i­lar ap­proaches, as ac­cess to th­ese es­sen­tial ser­vices could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death.

Taluk­san­gay barangay Hall, Zam­boanga, Min­danao, at

potty, etc, as well as a multi-pur­pose wrapcra­dle, body cover, etc. — Pho­tos from Fam­ily

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