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Reproductive Health Access, Information and Services in Emergencies

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The Reproductive Health Access, Information and Services in Emergencies Initiative aims to address the full range of reproductive health needs for refugees and internally displaced persons by building partnerships with humanitarian and development agencies, governments, United Nations bodies, advocacy agencies and academic institutions.

Mission

The Reproductive Health Access, Information and Services in Emergencies (RAISE) Initiative is catalysing change in how reproductive health (RH) is addressed by all sectors involved in emergency response, from field services to advocacy, from local aid providers to global relief movements.

Developed by Columbia University's Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health in the Mailman School of Public Health and Marie Stopes International (MSI), the RAISE Initiative aims to address the full range of RH needs for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) by building partnerships with humanitarian and development agencies, governments, United Nations (UN) bodies, advocacy agencies and academic institutions.

Through the expertise of our staff and leading research institutions; the power of cooperative partnerships with leading agencies and across multiple sectors; and the development of consistent, clearly established objectives for RH, the RAISE Initiative is well positioned to address the pressing RH needs of populations affected by emergencies.

The RAISE Initiative represents a strengthened commitment to the provision of fully integrated and comprehensive RH services for all.

The Need

High quality RH services are among the most basic of human needs. They are also among the most poorly addressed needs of displaced persons. Women are especially vulnerable to RH risks and emergencies, both in crisis and conflict settings and in general.

Access to comprehensive RH services and information is crucial to the wellbeing of populations that have been affected by humanitarian emergencies. When RH care is limited or absent, the toll - in terms of life-threatening medical emergencies; harm to women and their families; and the violation of human rights - is profound.

Today, emergency displacement is rarely a short-term event. Often, people uprooted by emergencies must live far from their communities of origin, in foreign regions or countries, for months or years at a time. Displaced populations often face unique challenges - such as the use of sex to obtain basic necessities of life; the consequences of rape as a weapon of war; and the health risks posed by poor sanitation, nutrition, and inconsistent access to shelter - which make certain RH risks all the more probable. Further, some survivors of emergency displacement may feel pressure to replace lost community members, while others are keenly aware of the need to seek safe and sanitary living conditions before conceiving; these conflicting motivations may even be present within the same community at once, creating an extremely complex set of concerns surrounding fertility and family planning.

The Approach

The RAISE Initiative's core premise is that comprehensive RH services must be recognised as an absolute necessity for populations displaced by emergencies - and, in a broader sense, as an integral part of basic health care for all, just as food, water, sanitation and shelter are commonly accepted as primary needs.

The RAISE Initiative works with partners to bring together all the tools needed to make comprehensive RH care in emergencies a basic standard of care. RAISE facilitates technical support, clinical training, research, and documentation and dissemination of findings. RAISE also organizes and participates in advocacy efforts for improved RH. We use all of these components in concert to help partner organisations push forward with their important work.

Components of the RAISE Initiative

Technical Support to Partners - RAISE provides assistance to partners to support project implementation, training, monitoring and evaluation, and other activities that aid in project development for delivery of quality RH services.

Clinical Training - RAISE provides clinical training and follow-up, both in the field and at the RAISE Training Centre at Eastleigh Nursing Home in Nairobi, Kenya. RAISE also collaborates with the Cellule de Recherche en Santé de la Reproduction (Reproductive Health Research Corps) in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, to provide the clinical training and follow-up in French.

Advocacy - RAISE staff and partners are working with UN agencies, international bodies and humanitarian agencies, governments and private donors to positively influence the policy and funding environment to facilitate widespread support for comprehensive RH care in emergencies.

Research - RAISE is working to identify priorities and develop a programme of operations research, backed by the expertise of leading institutions. Findings will be used to improve delivery of RH services globally.

Documentation and Dissemination - RAISE will make all research findings readily available through the RAISE website, professional journals and conferences.