(Photos by Willow Gerber/MSH)
by Filmona Hailemichael
On Tuesday, May 28, MSH brought together fragile states staff from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, and Afghanistan to share their field experiences with congressional staffers in Malaysia for the Women Deliver conference. The dinner panel, “Delivering Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH) in Fragile and Post-Conflict States,” featured Philippe Tshiteta of MSH DRC, Sandra Guerrier of MSH Haiti, and Dr. Mushfiq of MSH Afghanistan, and also Sandra Krause, the director of sexual and reproductive health at Women’s Refugee Commission, and Paola Cirillo, the Syria and Middle East program officer at Italian NGO AIDOS.
The five panelists shared vivid stories of the major barriers to and strategies for delivering MNCH and reproductive health services in the difficult contexts in which they work.
Despite many challenges, the common emergent theme was that simple, low cost interventions—such as having skilled birth attendants, immunizations, and proper hand washing—can have powerful impacts on effectively saving lives and improving the health of women and children even in post-conflict and post-disaster settings. The event left attendees with a better sense of the on-the-ground realities that MNCH health workers face in fragile states and an improved understanding of the need for improvements to health systems infrastructures in these environments.
Filmona Hailemichael is a manager of policy and advocacy at MSH.