Honoring Humanitarians on World Humanitarian Day
In honor of World Humanitarian Day, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon states, “There is never a year without humanitarian crises. And wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them – men and women coming together to ease suffering and bring hope. From Japan to Sudan, from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, aid workers help people who have lost their homes, loved ones and sources of income.”
Although humanitarian crises happen every year, so far 2011 provides myriad examples of the dedicated humanitarian help needed for millions of people in war torn or disaster ridden areas. Whether it’s an environmental disaster or food shortage, humanitarian assistance needs to address family planning and reproductive health not only to prevent and reduce such crises in the future, but also to address the reproductive health and family needs of those trying to survive current disasters.
In many emergency situations, reproductive health and family planning assistance can help prevent maternal and infant deaths, unwanted pregnancies, and the spread of HIV and other STIs. Currently, 3.7 million people in the Horn of Africa are going hungry and 12 million people need urgent aid. In countries such as Somalia, where famine has been declared by the UN for the first time this century, effective family planning programs could provide the opportunity to prevent unwanted pregnancies and alleviate the need for even more food.
Expanding populations and rising food costs leave 925 million people suffering from hunger and result in 3.9 million deaths per year for children under five. Poor maternal diet and inadequate food supply result in increased susceptibility to communicable diseases and malnutrition for mothers. At Knowledge for Health, we help humanitarians and public health professionals by providing them with the information they need to support their work. Two K4Health eToolkits, designed specifically for disaster situations, are the Haiti Relief Toolkit and the Pakistan Relief Toolkit. Many other K4Health eToolkits such as the Peace Corps’ Women in Development/Gender and Development Toolkit can reduce the effects of future emergencies by helping to improve the lives of families in developing countries.
Rebecca Shore is a Communications Specialist at Knowledge for Health.