Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

EDITORIAL COMMENTARY
Year
: 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 789--790

My Best Friend: A community-based initiative to ensure women welfare in conflicts-affected Central African Republic region


Saurabh R Shrivastava, Prateek S Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute,Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur, Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
India




How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. My Best Friend: A community-based initiative to ensure women welfare in conflicts-affected Central African Republic region.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:789-790


How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. My Best Friend: A community-based initiative to ensure women welfare in conflicts-affected Central African Republic region. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Jun 7 ];10:789-790
Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/4/789/196498


Full Text



Dear Sir,

The Central African Republic region has witnessed civil conflicts since the end of 2012 and the crisis has been marked by numerous killings, significant toll on the healthcare delivery system of the region, and evidences of different forms of violence, including sexual violence.[1] The available estimates suggest that in the present date, in excess of 2.3 million people are in immense need of humanitarian aid, especially because of the massive destruction of the health facilities.[1] Though, it is a fact that almost 33% of women worldwide have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence, but at times of conflicts or post conflicts, or during population displacement, the estimates are considerably high.[2]

It is absolutely true that all population groups are exposed to adverse consequences, nevertheless girls and women in the reproductive age group are just left for their human rights violation (viz., intimate partner violence, coerced sexual activity or sexual harassment, early marriage or early childbirth, etc.) and have been even devoid of routine sexual and reproductive health care, family planning, pregnancy care, abortion, or childbirth care and other supportive services.[2],[3] Further, despite no girl or women being immune to such violence, the risk increases enormously among women who are poor, have no awareness about their bodies, or have no access to timely healthcare services due to any reasons.[3],[4]

Exposure of women or girl to any such violent act tends to have a long-term impact on the women's mental and physical health, enhances the risk to acquire sexually transmitted infections, including HIV or unplanned pregnancy, and may even contribute to premature deaths.[2],[3],[4] In the absence of a strong public health system or health infrastructure in the conflict-affected regions, the United Nations Population Fund has initiated an awareness campaign, under the name of Ita Ouali (meaning “my best friend”).[1]

The aim of the program is to train local women to become health counsellors, and through them enhance awareness among other women about sexual and reproductive health-related issues and assist women who are in the need for health care by linking them with the health system.[1]

The initiative came into existence predominantly to minimize maternal and child-related mortality, which is second highest and fifth most common, respectively, in the region worldwide.[1] In this collaborative initiative between the national ministry and the international welfare agency, the plan is to empower women to assist each other, especially with regard to those issues that are very important for women, yet not prioritized by stakeholders.[1] There is no doubt that this community-based peer-operated program will have immense utility in improving the existing scenario, nevertheless sustained results can only be obtained provided measures are taken to strengthen the health system, improve the logistics supply, and periodically organize awareness activities to reinforce the health-related messages among the affected population.[1],[4],[5]

To conclude, the civil conflict in the Central African Region has already compromised the lives of millions of people in the region, especially women. It is high time that community-based and target-specific measures are taken to improve their quality of life and the health standards.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1UNFPA. “Best friends” save women's lives in war-weary Central African Republic. 2016. Available from: http://www.unfpa.org/news/best-friends-save-women%E2%80%99s-lives-war-weary-central-african-republic. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 27].
2World Health OrganizationViolence against women: Intimate partner sexual violence against women - Fact sheet N 239. 2016;Available from: http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 27].
3Otwombe KN, Dietrich J, Sikkema KJ, Coetzee J, Hopkins KL, Laher F. et al. Exposure to and experiences of violence among adolescents in lower socio-economic groups in Johannesburg, South Africa. BMC Public Health 2015;15:450.
4Ahanonu EL, Waggie F. Expectations of youth victims of violence regarding health care professionals leading them to wellness in South Africa. Curationis 2015;38:1547.
5MacIntyre LM, Waters CM, Rankin SH, Schell E, Laviwa J. Luhanga MR. How community trust was gained by an NGO in Malawi, Central Africa, to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS. J Transcult Nurs 2013;24:263-70.