August 6, 2015 By Regina Pratt
UNFPA country representative Dr Bannet Ndyanabangi said during this year’s World Population Day [11 July] celebrations that Sierra Leone has over the years suffered severe humanitarian and crisis situations as evidenced by the civil conflict in the earlier 1990s to 2002 and most recently Ebola outbreak.
“We are all fully aware of the consequences of the EVD [Ebola virus disease] outbreak on the country where it has constrained development efforts particularly in the health sector,” he said.
Dr. Ndyanabangi said conflicts and other humanitarian disasters have become the hallmark of many societies in modern times, with women and adolescent girls facing particular threats from the emerging services they need.
“In humanitarian situations an estimated one in five women and adolescents girls are likely to be pregnant,” revealed the UNFPA boss, adding that during crisis situations women and adolescent girls face much greater risk of abuse, sexual exploitation, violence and forced marriage.
Dr. Ndyanabangi said there is an ongoing assessment to determine the extent of teenage pregnancy among adolescent girls, noting they intend to use celebrations to mark World Population Day to highlight the special needs of women and adolescent girls during conflicts and humanitarian disasters.
“I want to re-affirm that UNFPA is determined to ensure that the rights of women and adolescent girls to sexual and reproductive health are protected and equally ensuring their safety,” he said.
The UNFPA country representative said the need for strong health systems and sufficient health workers has been recently reaffirmed by the Ebola outbreak in the country, where pregnant women struggle to access limited healthcare services to ensure safe delivery.
“As we move into the post-Ebola recovery programmes, UNFPA is well positioned to support Government’s effort particularly in the health sector,” he said and added that they would work closely with government, United Nations system, international and local partners on post EVD health sector recovery to ensure that reproductive health and rights are protected.