In an effort to save the lives of pregnant women and women with newborns in the drought-stricken areas of Somalia and some parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is distributing reproductive healthcare kits. The health kits include sanitary pads, soap, underwear and other hygiene items. Headscarves are also included so women can walk to food distribution centers without being harassed by Islamic Extremists.
Over 3,500 kits have already been distributed to Kenyan women. UNFPA executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said “We are deeply concerned by the gravity of the situation in the region. We call upon the international community to urgently look after the unique needs of pregnant women and mothers whose families’ survival are particularly at risk.”
The UNFPA is focusing its support specifically on women because around 80 percent of refugees in these three areas are women. OXFAM estimates that for every 100,000 live births, at least 298 women die in these areas, and the numbers are rising. Malnutrition increases pregnancy-related complications that lead to maternal deaths and infant illness. Experts believe that by eliminating malnutrition among months, disabilities in infants will be reduced by almost a third.