HONIARA, the Solomon Islands. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Pacific expert group deployed from Fiji completed a three-day workshop today for Solomon Islands government officials and representatives from non-governmental organizations, as to how best to prepare for and respond to future emergencies by addressing special needs and concerns especially of women and girls that are often neglected or under-prioritized in such a crisis setting – their sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
The Solomon Islands is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, ranked as the second most vulnerable country on the World Risk Index 2021. Climate-induced disasters, human made conflicts, or health pandemics often result in the disruption of the affected populations’ access to many basic needs. During an immediate response to such a crisis, much attention tends to be devoted to critical needs such as shelter, food, water and sanitation, while SRH needs especially of women and girls are often overlooked. Such neglect has led to serious life-threatening consequences across the globe, such as increase in maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality, unintended pregnancies, gender-based violence, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, disability, and mental health problems including depression and trauma. Indeed, two-thirds of preventable maternal deaths and 45% of newborn deaths globally take place in countries affected by recent conflict, natural disaster, or both.
It is against this background that UNFPA Pacific Humanitarian Team organized this training in the Solomon Islands on the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Sexual and Reproductive Health in crisis situations. This MISP training was funded by the USAID-Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, and attended by 17 frontline service providers from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association, Solomon Islands Red Cross Society, Seif Ples, Solomon Islands National Women’s Council and other organizations.
The aim of the MISP framework is to contribute to reducing preventable maternal and new-born deaths, reduce unmet need for family planning, reduce STI/HIV transmission, reduce sexual violence during a crisis situation, and plan for comprehensive services integrated into primary health care as soon as possible. The MISP for SRH is applicable during the acute crisis and also during the recovery phase, to integrate comprehensive SRH services at all levels of service delivery, particularly at primary care level.
“The MISP training is one of the priority activities under the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) Program of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MOHMS) to prepare us to respond to future natural disasters. We need to better prepare ourselves and upskill our staff and our stakeholders to respond to these situations and to provide life saving sexual and reproductive health for our women, mothers, children and their families,” said Ms. Nancy Pego, MOHMS RMNCAH Program Manager. “We thank UNFPA for the support for this training, and we look forward to our partnership also for rolling out MISP down at the Provincial level.”
“As the Pacific sub-region expects another cyclone season approaching, this type of MISP training is an important investment in strengthening national and local disaster preparedness and improving readiness to implement MISP within 48 hours in an unfortunate event of a disaster,” underscores Ms. Alicia Kenilorea, Programme Specialist of UNFPA Pacific in the Solomon Islands. UNFPA continues to support the Pacific Island Countries and Territories in addressing the humanitarian and development needs of communities, particularly vulnerable people at risk including persons with disability, SOGIESC, women, and girls, and elderly.