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$3 Million Requested by UNFPA to Help Women and Girls Displaced by Myanmar Cyclone

UNITED NATIONS, May 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is appealing for $3 million to address the urgent humanitarian concerns of cyclone-affected populations, particularly women and girls, in Myanmar's Ayeyarwady and Yangon regions.

The amount is being sought as part of a joint flash appeal to be launched by the United Nations today. Tens of thousands of pregnant women made homeless by the cyclone urgently need lifesaving assistance. UNFPA is working with humanitarian partners to mobilize emergency reproductive health supplies, including safe delivery kits, for those affected.

Disasters like Cyclone Nargis put expectant mothers and their babies at special risk because of the sudden loss of medical support, compounded by trauma, malnutrition and disease. Among the estimated 1.5 million people severely affected by the storm, one in five women of childbearing age is likely to be pregnant; around 15 per cent of them will suffer from complications during labour.

Teams from United Nations and non-governmental agencies are assessing the needs for food, water, sanitation, shelter and health among the displaced. As part of the coordinated international response, UNFPA will send supplies to make deliveries safer. These include individual kits containing a clean razor blade, a string for cutting and tying the umbilical cord, a plastic sheet, a bar of soap, and a blanket to keep the newborn warm. This would save infants and prevent life-threatening post-delivery infections in mothers who cannot reach a medical facility.

Medicines and equipment will also be sent to help health workers take care of women with complicated pregnancies. These include intravenous drip sets, antibiotics, painkillers, syringes, sterile gloves and small sterilizing machines.

In the emergency projects outlined in today's flash appeal, UNFPA will work with key United Nations organizations and local and international partners to:

-- Assist the Ministry of Health and other health partners to improve

access to basic health services for displaced and host communities;

-- Provide emergency reproductive health assistance - including delivery

and emergency obstetric care for pregnant women, equipment to maintain a

safe blood supply, and family planning;

-- Help prevent and respond to cases of sexual and gender-based violence

among the displaced; and

-- Safeguard the personal hygiene and dignity of displaced women, girls,

boys and men by providing them with essential hygiene supplies.

UNFPA is working closely with partners, including MERCY Malaysia, to provide additional support on the ground. The Fund is also working with the Myanmar Red Cross Society to establish services to meet the most basic reproductive health requirements, before comprehensive services can be provided when conditions permit it.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

SOURCE United Nations Population Fund
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