In times of crisis, the need for sexual and reproductive healthcare can rise, while access often falls. We’re working in conflict and crisis settings to protect access to essential women’s healthcare.
In humanitarian settings, access to sexual and reproductive healthcare is essential.
Sexual violence is a brutal reality in many conflict settings, and it’s crucial that survivors of violence can access the healthcare and psycho-social support they need. Many women fleeing crises are also facing displacement, and with their lives in upheaval, it’s vital they have the reproductive healthcare they need to prevent unintended pregnancy, for as long as it’s needed.
Yet, in humanitarian and crisis settings, women’s healthcare is often de-prioritised. Without access to the services they seek – such as contraception, emergency contraception, safe abortion or post-abortion care – women are denied control of their own bodies, putting their health, lives and futures at risk. This is where MSI is stepping in.
In countries such as Myanmar, Ethiopia and Afghanistan MSI’s local teams have ensured that women’s reproductive healthcare services remain open amidst conflict, delivering high-quality, empathetic care to anyone who needs it.
In Northern Ethiopia, the conflict has claimed many lives and robbed women of their bodily autonomy. The UN has reported that thousands of women and girls have experienced sexual and gender-based violence and with health facilities damaged or looted, women have been left without essential reproductive healthcare. Yet through the crisis, MSI Ethiopia’s providers have gone above and beyond to remain there for women, keeping services open wherever possible.
In Tigray, where the UN warned of the scale of sexual and gender-based violence, the team were able to keep services running throughout, providing life-saving care to women and girls.
And in the conflict-affected regions of Amhara and Afar, MSI Ethiopia’s mobile outreach team travelled directly to the areas with greatest need, providing specialist support with reproductive healthcare and counselling for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
In Afghanistan, women are unable to access healthcare services delivered by male providers. That’s why MSI Afghanistan has a team of ‘MSI Ladies’ – female nurses and midwives who deliver women-led healthcare services in their local communities.
One of these female providers is Haya. As a trained midwife, Haya provides discrete services to women in her community in northern Afghanistan, delivering care and building awareness around women’s healthcare options.
“In Afghanistan, women can feel restricted in what they can share on their health and relationships with male doctors, so as a woman, I wanted to help these women, particularly vulnerable women, with no other access,” Haya shared.
When a powerful earthquake struck in the Paktika and Khost provinces of Afghanistan, MSI Afghanistan’s female outreach teams travelled straight to the affected regions and set up emergency services in the encampments. Providing primary healthcare, reproductive healthcare and menstrual hygiene kits, the team were able to protect the health and needs of women and girls, including for those who had lost their homes and loved ones.
And in Ethiopia, where thousands have faced displacement from the conflict, MSI Ethiopia have ensured their reproductive healthcare is protected. In camps for internally-displaced people, our teams are distributing ‘dignity kits’, including clean underwear, sanitary products, soap and dental hygiene products, alongside reproductive healthcare and psycho-social support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Access to women’s healthcare can be life-changing and life-saving. MSI is committed to ensuring that even in the most challenging contexts, women’s health and choices are protected.
We’re working towards a world where everyone can access reproductive healthcare. Keep reading for more information on our work in humanitarian settings and how you can help.
For over twenty years, MSI has provided life-saving services in Afghanistan, reaching over 380,000 women every year with essential healthcare, including maternal health and family planning services.
Access to women’s healthcare is empowering, cost effective and can be life-saving. Find out how we delivered access to more 67,000 people every day in 2021, including in humanitarian settings, in our global Annual Report.
It only costs £6 per year – or 2 pence per day – for MSI to provide someone with life-changing reproductive healthcare, giving them the power to decide if or when to become pregnant. Help us protect reproductive choice, when needed most.