UN-funded mobile hospital for women to cater to rape survivors in Eastern Visayas
PALO, Leyte—The absence of adequate medical facilities for women, particularly the pregnant ones, in the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” prompted the setting up of a mobile special hospital for women in Eastern Visayas.
The Emergency Maternity Unit, built jointly by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with its partner organization and medical care facilities provider Hospitalier, has complete health-care machines and services for pregnant and lactating mothers and for rape survivors dealing with injuries related to the abuse, said Dr. Michael Singh, UNFPA national program officer, on Saturday.
The first of the mobile maternity unit was turned over to the Palo local government on Saturday to start its operation soon, after five women were forced to give birth in the municipal hall of Palo as Yolanda left the town’s hospitals damaged, Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla said.
Although they only heard accounts of rape of women and girls that happened in Leyte following a temporary breakdown of law and order in the wake of the typhoon, they were mainly anecdotal, Singh added.
Still, he said, they were still expecting to accommodate any survivors of gender-based crimes who are in need of health and trauma care.
“This (Emergency Maternity Unit) is a woman-sensitive facility, not only for moms. We can also perform clinical management for rape victims here,” he said.
He said most rape survivors they encountered in the past in calamity-stricken areas elsewhere in the world came to ask for help for fear of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or getting pregnant, aside from medical attention for physical injuries.
He added that issues like rape and violence against women received the least attention during calamities because authorities tend to give more focus on food relief operations and rebuilding of homes.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who was present during the turnover, said women and girls should be given special attention during calamities.
Aside from birthing, doctors could also perform Caesarian section and treatment of obstetric complications like hemorrhage in the Emergency Maternity Unit, Singh said.
Another purpose of the mobile Emergency Maternity Unit is to prevent maternal deaths, which is a reflection of the situation of the public health system of any community, Singh added. “No mother should die giving life,” he said.
Another Emergency Maternity Unit would be set up in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, on Dec. 20 to cater to women and girls there, Singh said.
UNFPA executive director
Dr. Babatunde Osotimenhin turned over the key of the Emergency Maternity Unit in Palo to Ona on Saturday.
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