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UNFPA advocates for an Ebola response sensitive to the continuity of reproductive health services

Conakry-Dakar, 15 March 2021: From 2013 to 2016, the Ebola virus affected many people in West Africa, including 3,804 in Guinea, 52% of whom were women. UNFPA Guinea supported the Guinean government in responding through the continuity of reproductive health services to the tune of 2,555,844 US dollars. Faced with the return of the virus since 14 February 2021, in the South of the country, the response must again be sensitive to the continuity of these services.

During this new Ebola epidemic, it is essential to support the continuity of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for women and girls. This includes ensuring the availability of qualified personnel, drugs and equipment, and building capacity for infection prevention and health facilities control According to data from the Regional Health Directorate of the N’Zérékoré region, 12,981 pregnant and lactating mothers, including 685 in Gouecke and Womey, are expected utilize SRH services in the coming months. These women will need access to Anti-Natal Care (ANC)and qualified health personnel (including midwives), for pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care. Other women and girls of childbearing age in the region also need sexual and reproductive health care; however, health workers are not available in large numbers in the N’Zérékoré region.

 

The epicenter of the epidemic to date has only eight (8) midwives (1 in Gouécké, 1 in Womey, 1 in Kokota and 5 at the regional hospital of N'Zérékoré). The 14 health posts around Gouécké, Womey and Kotota do not have midwives. N'Zérékoré hospital has three doctors who can provide delivery services for a population of 288,471. Several midwives were in quarantine for being contacts of Ebola patients or contacts of other contacts.

 

The data mentioned above highlights the weakness of the health system characterized in particular by: (i) insufficient health personnel compared to WHO standards (4.5 doctors per 100,000 inhabitants, 6.9 state nurses per 100,000 inhabitants and 2.5 midwives per 100,000 inhabitants).

 

Besides, weak data management capacity, low availability of inputs; low uptake of health services; low referral of patients to the appropriate health structures are many other challenges that the region affected by the epidemic is currently facing. As the situation is similar to that of 2013, a national response viewed holistically and including everyone will leave no one behind.

 

During the first Ebola epidemic in Guinea, UNFPA was one of the first agencies to provide an adequate response to the government through regular funds and mobilization of resources from other partners. These resources made it possible to ensure the continuity of sexual and reproductive health services by providing 93 midwives, 25 health technicians and 784 community workers. In addition to human resources, life-saving drugs and commodities have been made available to health structures, particularly maternity hospitals. All this made it possible for qualified health personnel to provide women and girls with maternal health services and prevent any Ebola infection in health structures.

 

Such an approach considers everyone, especially the most vulnerable groups such as pregnant and lactating mothers and women and girls of childbearing age. Without adequate funding for the continuity of services, the reproductive rights of populations in the region are at risk of being compromised.

The United Nations Population Fund, Regional office for West and Central Africa and the Guinea office have already mobilized resources from partners to the tune of a little over $550,000 for the continuity of services. However, these resources cannot cover all the unmet needs of the region. UNFPA is actively working to mobilize more resources and calls on the state and all development partners to invest in the continuity of services to leave no one behind.

 

Contacts :

Habibou Dia| Media Specialist, UNFPA WCARO | dia@unfpa.org | Tel: +221 78 620 45 13– Dakar, Sénégal

Afiwa Mata AHOUADJOGBE| Chargée de Communication et des Réseaux Sociaux, UNFPA Guinée | ahouadjogbe@unfpa.org | Tel: +224 624 21 50 74 – Conakry, Guinée