4 January 2005 United Nations Population Fund – Over 100,000 people (one third of the population) have been affected by the earthquake-triggered tsunami in the Maldives and approximately 15,000 people are now internally displaced. The survivors urgently need clean water, food, shelter and basic medical care.

As emergency assessments are underway in many of the areas affected, it is becoming increasingly clear that the particular needs of women require urgent response.  Among the affected population many  women are currently pregnant and needing nutritional support and safe delivery conditions. It is estimated that two thirds of the pregnant population will give birth in the next six months regardless of the health facilities available.

Ten Regional/Atoll hospitals and health centres have been severely damaged and are not functioning while supplies and equipment have been destroyed in an additional 20 health service delivery points. Other special needs are inadvertently overlooked. Women and girls, in addition to needing access to water, food, shelter and medical care, have particular hygiene needs which must be considered if they are to be able to carry on their daily lives with dignity.

In some of the affected communities, women who have lost all possessions do not have access even to the most basic of clothing and hygiene items which are required in order for them to participate fully in the community Immediate action by UNFPA includes contribution of water, sanitation and hygiene supplies such as sanitary napkins, toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels, and clothing to the displaced population. Emergency supplies, including clean delivery kits, clinical delivery equipment and materials for safe blood transfusion, have been procured.

UNFPA is assisting the government and NGOs in providing psychosocial support services to the most affected women, girls and children. UNFPA is supporting the Ministry of Health and working with the other UN agencies to assess the impact of the disaster and to help develop a comprehensive plan for relief and rehabilitation.

UNFPA Assistant Representative Ms. Dunya Maumoon reports that the UNFPA Maldives country team  is working to mobilize resources in the rebuilding and replenishing of devastated health facilities, as well as the re establishment of safe delivery and reproductive health services in the affected areas.

(For any  further information or queries  please email Ms. Shadiya Ibrahim, UNFPA programme associate at shadiya.ibrahim@undp.org)

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