IFRC and UNFPA extend collaboration in humanitarian crises

Published: 24 July 2008

Sign Letter of Cooperation on Reproductive Health, Gender, Population, Development

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have agreed to extend their collaboration in health promotion programmes around the world.

A Letter of Cooperation signed in New York today by the two agencies’ heads comes in response to a recognized need for new modes of collaboration to more effectively reach populations affected by natural disasters or other crises such as epidemics.

"UNFPA emphasizes the need to build up national capacities to ensure that everyone can access the reproductive health care they need, including during emergencies," said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA. "Our collaboration with IFRC will further contribute to mitigating the impact of humanitarian crises and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals."

The Letter of Cooperation builds upon earlier agreements through which the two organizations work together in a range of settings on advocacy, service delivery, training and capacity building primarily at the national level.

"Disease prevention and primary health care at the community level are among our top priorities," notes International Federation Secretary General Bekele Geleta. "Our millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers, reaching out to families with first aid services and health education are particularly effective in improving the health of communities. Joint action with UNFPA in many countries, in fields such as safe motherhood, family planning, reproductive health and nutrition, is proving invaluable in mitigating the impact of poverty and crises on the most vulnerable, and we welcome our renewed agreement."

UNFPA’s country programmes focus on improving reproductive health, generating population data for development, and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. UNFPA has worked in 105 crisis situations, both natural and manmade, between 1994 and 2007.

Collaboration with IFRC will provide an opportunity to better integrate UNFPA’s technical expertise in emergency preparedness, response and recovery, given IFRC’s formidable ability to reach and mobilize communities.

In crisis situations, many of society’s structures and institutions are eroded or destroyed. HIV may spread more quickly, and gender-based violence may increase, while facilities to support rape survivors may be weakened or non-existent. Health systems may be destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to provide emergency obstetric care. Reproductive health commodities become scarce, and contraceptives are at times unobtainable. By enhancing country-level collaboration between IFRC and UNFPA, it is hoped these gaps will be identified more swiftly and solutions elaborated more rapidly.

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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity.

UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. It comprises 186 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and is supported by some 100 million volunteers and members worldwide. The International Federation and its member National Societies work to reduce the impact of disasters and disease through relief and development activities. The organization’s work is guided by seven fundamental principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 189 member National Societies. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright