A 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which is the largest to hit Japan since records began, hit the north-east of the country on 11 March 2011. It was followed by a series of strong aftershocks, and also triggered a massive tsunami, which has destroyed most of the cities and villages on the north-east coast of Japan. During periods following a major natural disaster, women often lose access to basic health services, as public health and clinical care infrastructure are disrupted.
Pregnant women and infants have unique health concerns in the aftermath, and issues such as no clean water, inadequate access to safe food, loss of electricity, exposure to environmental toxins, and crowded conditions in shelters add to the threats posed to these vulnerable populations. Many times, women in early stages of pregnancy may not be aware of their pregnancies and may not seek the necessary health care that could save their lives and the lives of their babies. Health care needs of women who wish to avoid an unintended pregnancy are also important, because unintended pregnancy is associated with increased maternal morbidity. Women may not have access to their preferred contraceptive method, so public health planning for natural disasters should consider strategies for providing access to contraception, including methods requiring a prescription.
Would you like to support women, and mothers and children in the disaster struck area?
The Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP) has decided to support people in the hardest hit area in Japan, especially girls and women, in this difficult time. Although they are primarily an international cooperation organization, this disaster has affected and spurred them to come together to work towards recovery. JOICFP will focus on MDG5, improving maternal health, responding to the reproductive health needs of women and mothers in affected area, which is most often overlooked in disaster relief activities.
They plan to distribute relief supplies, such as disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, and relief clothing for women and newborns to meet their daily needs. They will also support healthcare activities, such as providing healthcare services for mothers and newborns, and psychological care for women who are suffering from severe stress after this traumatic disaster. All the support activities will be conducted in collaboration with local midwives, who have been working very closely with the communities.
If you would like to make donation to their relief activities, please donate here: http://www.joicfp.or.jp/eng/
Please note that they cannot accept any relief goods itself as transportations are strictly limited to the affected area.
Photo via Beacon Radio