By Julius N. Uma
October 9, 2010 (JUBA) - A draft contingency plan that seeks to address sexual and reproductive health issues in Southern Sudan has been adopted. The plan was adopted after a five-day training on a Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for sexual and reproductive health organized by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
The MISP is described as a coordinated set of priority activities designed to prevent and manage the consequences of sexual violence, prevent excess neonatal, maternal morbidity and mortality, reduce HIV transmission and plan for comprehensive reproductive health services in the early days and weeks of emergency.
The training aimed at establishing a national team on MISP and sexual reproductive health in crisis management, organizing and conducting training for various stakeholders, including key health workers and integrating sexual reproductive health into existing emergency preparedness.
Dr. Fikru Zeleke, the UNFPA Reproductive Health Program Advisor told Sudan Tribune that the draft reproductive health emergency contingency plan will first be distributed to their partners before being rolled-out into communities across all 10 states of Southern Sudan.
The development of the plan, he emphasized, remains an essential element of south Sudan’s pre-and post-referendum period, given the region’s high rates of maternal and child mortality.
“As we prepare for the referendum, we need to also take into consideration sexual and reproductive health issues as well. This draft contingency plan is expected to address emergency situations that may arise,” Dr. Zeleke said.
In a separate interview, Mary Marle, UNFPA’s Reproductive Health Officer said if fully adopted, the contingency plan will be shared with all the communities and relevant government departments, including those handling security matters in the region.
“Currently, all sectors have contingency plans and these plans, just like the one we have development on reproductive health emergencies have to go hand in hand with the regional security plans,” Marle said.
Asked what challenges await this plan, Sunday Imunu, a Ministry of Health official cited inadequate human resources, transport and sustainable logistical issues as some of the anticipated setbacks that could interfere with successful implementation efforts.
The training, supported by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the Women’s Commission, targeted various stakeholders involved in reproductive health issues, as well as staffs working on reproductive health, gender and HIV/AIDS in emergencies.