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Table of Contents   
LETTER TO THE EDITOR  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 264-265
Improving the health standards of women and girls trapped in conflicts: An urgent need


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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Date of Web Publication5-May-2017
 

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Improving the health standards of women and girls trapped in conflicts: An urgent need. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:264-5

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Improving the health standards of women and girls trapped in conflicts: An urgent need. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Oct 23];10:264-5. Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/1/264/205558


Dear Sir,

Amidst the different conflicts and civil wars happening across the globe, currently the world is facing the largest refugee crisis with more than 60 million people being displaced from their dwellings.[1] Out of them, almost 50% are women and girls, while another tens of millions of females are exposed to serious consequences despite being present in their own homes during and after the conflicts, and thus are in an immense need of humanitarian aid.[1]

The majority of the risks which a woman is exposed to during conflicts are predominantly because of the ongoing violence, financial instability, limited access, attack on health facilities, looting of medical supplies, fatal attacks or abduction of health staffs, and disruption of the community structures and health care delivery services.[2],[3] At times of conflicts, women and girls face multiple high-risk circumstances, to which men and boys are generally not exposed. In fact, it will not be wrong to say that during armed conflicts, it is more threatening to be a woman than a soldier.[1],[2],[3] During the chaos, women are usually exposed to increased rates of forced marriage before attaining the age of 18 years, sexual slavery and violence (like transactional sex, sexual debut, etc.), serious violations of human rights, and psychological disorders.[2],[3]

In addition, the access to routine health care services like family planning, maternal health care, sexual and reproductive health services sharply declines.[4] This results in increased maternal morbidity and mortality, early first birth, high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, and high fertility levels.[3],[4] In short, the conflict exposes women to those events which could result in a long-term impact on both the mental health of the women and their children.[5] However, despite the presence of these life-threatening risks and vulnerabilities, the needs of women and girls have been neglected over the years, and thus aggravating the problem enormously.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

In order to meet the special needs and improve the health standards and quality of life of women and girls in conflict-affected regions, there is an extensive need to bridge the existing gaps in health care delivery, improve access to essential quality health care services, strengthen existing resources, formulate technical guidelines on important public health issues, conduct drills to respond to the specific needs of the women and girls, create a helpline number to ensure that any women or girl forcefully indulged in wrong practices can be recovered, sensitize health professionals to have a high index of suspicion for vulnerable women, involve men in improving the health standards of women and girls, create awareness among the general population about the health services delivered during conflicts, develop an action plan to restore the functioning of the health centers at times of conflicts, and develop cordial relationships with the parties in conflict to support the delivery of health care to the vulnerable group of populations.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]

To conclude, the unmet needs of women and girls in today's conflict region are enormous in terms of their magnitude and urgency. As the needs of these vulnerable groups of population are diverse, it requires a coordinated effort from all the concerned stakeholders to address the problem and allow each and every girl to reach her full potential.

Acknowledgements

SRS contributed in the conception or design of the work, drafting of the work, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

PSS contributed in the literature review, revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

JR contributed in revising the draft, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
UNFPA Global leaders launch a new programme to support women in conflict zones; 2016. Available from: http://www.unfpa.org/news/global-leaders-launch-new-programme-support-women-conflict-zones. [Last accessed on 2016 Apr 19].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Cardoso LF, Gupta J, ShumanS, Cole H, Kpebo D, Falb KL.What factors contribute to intimate partner violence against women in urban, conflict-affected settings? Qualitative findings from Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. J Urban Health 2016;93:364-78.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Neal S, Stone N, Ingham R. The impact of armed conflict on adolescent transitions: a systematic review of quantitative research on age of sexual debut, first marriage and first birth in young women under the age of 20 years. BMC Public Health 2016;16:225.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Chi PC, Bulage P, UrdalH, Sundby J. Perceptions of the effects of armed conflict on maternal and reproductive health services and outcomes in Burundi and Northern Uganda: a qualitative study. BMC Int Health Hum Rights 2015; 15: 7.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Khan MN, Chiumento A, Dherani M, Bristow K, Sikander S, Rahman A. Psychological distress and its associations with past events in pregnant women affected by armed conflict in Swat, Pakistan: a cross sectional study. Confl Health 2015;9:37.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Falb KL, Annan J, King E, Hopkins J, Kpebo D, Gupta J. Gender norms, poverty and armed conflict in Côte D'Ivoire: engaging men in women's social and economic empowerment programming. Health Educ Res 2014;29:1015-27.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
World Health Organization. Ukraine humanitarian response plan 2016; 2016. Available from: http://www.who.int/hac/crises/ukr/appeals/en/. [Last accessed on 2016 Apr 19]  Back to cited text no. 7
    

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Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvanchery Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.205558

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