Ethiopia to scale up family planning delivery in humanitarian settings and remote areas

Stewart Tichaona Muchapera, Communications Officer, East and Southern African FP2030 Regional Hub 

Ethiopia is a country at the nexus of three threats: armed conflict, lingering effects of COVID-19, and climate-related hazards such as floods and droughts. All these stressors and shocks disproportionately affect women and girls, with more than two-thirds of the people in need in 2023 being women and girls according to UNFPA 

In 2023, the UN OCHA estimated 4.6 million internally displaced people needed assistance. 

Dr. Meseret Zelalem Tadesse, the lead Executive Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health in the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, narrated the effects of climate change on health outcomes and called for climate-change sensitive approaches as her nation is not spared from the vagaries of climate change.  

“When climate change-induced natural disasters occur, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services are hugely impacted. We work hard to ensure reproductive health services are delivered to those in need by better integration of reproductive health into emergency responses,” said Dr. Tadesse.  

She continued, “We prioritize delivering minimum service packages for SRH and provide shelter, protection, water, food, and clothing. We work closely with United Nations agencies to provide menstrual hygiene management services, which is a vital component for protecting girls and women.”  

She added that beyond the emergency response, they need to better implement their national adaptation plan to ensure they mitigate the impacts of climate change on health, “to ensure we mitigate the impacts of climate change on health, to ensure we have climate resilient SRH services, climate-resilient health care centers and research centers,” said Dr. Tadesse 

In recognition of these challenges, Ethiopia has been deliberate in the inclusion of a section on Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) in their FP2030 commitment and Costed Implementation Plan (CIP). 

The FP2030 East and Southern Africa Regional Hub has started socializing the Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) agenda to selected countries in the region based on their fragility index and the availability of an EPR commitment. 

Oren Jusu, FP2030 Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, in a recent visit to Ethiopia said given that Ethiopia has singled out EPR in its FP2030 commitment and CIP, the hub will prioritize the integration of Emergency, Preparedness, and Response Policies and Guidelines of Ethiopia into its sexual and reproductive services (including family planning) in emergency settings. 

“The meetings with different stakeholders in Ethiopia provided us with additional information on how to drive the FP2030 EPR strategy and setting up of the EPR Centre of Excellence, and how to coordinate in-country activities,” said Jusu. 

Jusu added that the meetings also provided an opportunity to understand the EPR-related gaps in Ethiopia, which include lack of coordination mechanisms, supply chain challenges, lack of adequate financial resources to drive the EPR agenda, the capacity gap amongst healthcare providers, and lack of comprehensive health and emergency response policies that integrate family planning. 

“Coordination is crucial for a successful and impactful humanitarian response because: it enhances the effectiveness and impact of collective efforts by ensuring common standards and approaches, prioritization of needs, identification of gaps, and peer accountability,” said Jusu. 

To enhance in-country coordination, impact, and effectiveness, FP2030 is working with the USAID PROPEL ADAPT to develop a costing tool Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in crisis and emergency situations. This will enable countries to know what emergency preparedness will cost so that they can plan.  

The MISP comprises six crucial objectives aimed at addressing SRH needs of affected populations during humanitarian crises. These objectives include identifying a lead organization for implementing the MISP, preventing sexual violence, reducing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, minimizing maternal and newborn morbidity, preventing unintended pregnancies, and planning for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services integrated into primary health care. 

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