Family Planning in Humanitarian Crises: Essential, Wanted, Needed and Possible

12 December, 2018


Image result for family planning conference rwandaReproductive Health Matters (RHM) recently attended and exhibited at the fifth International Family Planning Conference in Kigali, Rwanda from 12-15 November 2018. The theme for this year’s conference was “Investing for a Lifetime of Returns.”

This year, there was a strong theme of humanitarian crises running through the conference sessions. RHM spoke to several members of the The Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises, of which Reproductive Health Matters is a member, about the importance of family planning in humanitarian crises and why this track was so important at the Family Planning Conference.

Jennifer Schlecht, Senior Advisor, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Family Planning 2020

“Millions of women are affected by crises every year, whether its natural disaster, whether its conflict or simply migration or displacement due to other factors that could cause environmental change or economic factors. So those women, when they’re displaced, have the same reproductive health needs as other women, if not more. And I think we have to remember that they have a right to access the family planning that they need and demand”.

“There is an increased acceptance or understanding that crises are not something that happen ‘there’ or for ‘other people’, that this is a human condition, it is a circumstance, it is our operating environment, and it excites me to hear that this is starting to be discussed in that way”.

IPAS: Bill Powell, Senior Technical Advisor and Dr. Sayed Rubayet, Country Director for Bangladesh

Dr Sayed Rabayet: “In Bangladesh we are especially in consideration of the humanitarian situation, we are working with IAWG, other partners, the government and other UN agencies to establish sexual and reproductive health services in a comprehensive way, so that the abortion care can be ensured and contraceptive services can be ensured for the women who are in desperate need of these services“.

Bill Powell: “This conference provided good opportunities to link contraceptive service, family planning with the humanitarian situation and with that perspective, the abortion care services”. 

“It’s about the partnerships, the stories we’re telling and learning from each other, and demonstrating how to offer safe abortion as a continuum of family planning in humanitarian settings

Stanis Ngarukiye, Health and Nutrition Program Manager, Save the Children, Rwanda

“At Save the Children we are implementing a programme in emergency settings  for the Burundian refugees, Burundian refugees that have been hosted in Mahama refugee camp (currently 367,552 refugees). And Save the Children is providing primary health care – that includes family planning and post-abortion care in addition to adolescent sexual and reproductive health through youth spaces”.

“As you know, family planning is life planning and the life planning starts from a young age. So if youth are most engaged in family planning, better will be the future“. 

Deogratias Ndagijimana, Save the Children, Rwanda

“I had the opportunity to present today about increasing access to critical family planning and reproductive health services to Burundian refugees in Rwanda. It’s very important that different humanitarian teams attend the conference and share experiences and share different perspectives on implementation”.

“I was more concerned about how to engage adolescents in reproductive health to reach them with reproductive health messages, family planning and HIV tests”. 

Hennia Dakkak, Technical Advisor, UNFPA

“All countries have to really ensure that the needs of IDP (internally displaced persons) , refugees and migrants should be protected and supported with services and information. So we have been working to really ensure that we address the needs of the humanitarian ‘population’ in the same way”

“You cannot talk about sexual and reproductive health and rights without family planning. And you cannot talk about family planning without sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is a relationship that is ingrained in each other. And we cannot also talk about all of this without gender equality and human rights. So we needed to bring all of these elements together as a community”.