New research led by Dr Nibedita S Ray-Bennett at the University of Leicester will look into the sexual and reproductive health issues in disaster-prone areas during times of humanitarian crisis.

The project, supported by the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (IPPF) Innovation Programme, will explore the opportunities and challenges around reproductive health during disasters and emergencies in Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The two year project will look at whether the pre-positioning of Reproductive Health Kit-8 prior to disasters such as flooding or cyclones has the potential to provide Post-abortion care (PAC) services to help reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with complications of unsafe abortions.

The research is a joint venture with Dr Fauzia Akhter Huda from the icddrb, Bangladesh; Ms Rehana Salam from the Agha Khan University in Pakistan, International Planned Parenthood Federation’s South Asia Region (IPPF-SAR), IPPF’s SPRINT Initiative (Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme in Crisis and Post Crisis Situations) and IPPF SAR Member Associations in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The team will look specifically at Reproductive Health Kit 8 supplied by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), which is used to treat the complications arising from miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) and from unsafe induced abortion, including sepsis, incomplete evacuation and bleeding.

The kits are complementary to the Interagency Emergency Health Kit – which is designed to meet the primary health care needs of displaced populations without medical facilities.

The researchers will conduct the evaluation of the RH Kit-8 positioned by IPPF-SAR and IPPF-SAR Member Associations in Pakistan and Bangladesh which will help to reduce the number of women falling ill or dying as a result of a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) or unsafe induced abortion, during their displacement.

Dr Nibedita S Ray-Bennett, Lecturer in Risk Management from the University of Leicester’s School of Management, said: “We feel that the success of the Reproductive Health Kit 8 is likely to be influenced by its positioning in strategic locations and with strategic agents.

“We will establish this by reviewing IPPF-SAR Member Association’s reproductive health data documented at branch levels, and by conducting a baseline survey in disaster-prone locations in Bangladesh, we shall develop an intervention protocol based on these findings which we will then implement in a ‘disaster climate’ in Bangladesh as well as in a disaster-prone locale in Pakistan to test and validate the positioning of RH kit-8 in such situation.”

“In a post-disaster phase, we will conduct end line surveys to identify reproductive health changes happened due to the positioning of RH kit-8 amongst our selected population.”

The overall objective of the research study is that the evidence gathered from this research will be used by governing bodies to inform policy and programmatic decisions for Post-abortion care (PAC) services and reproductive health issues in Bangladesh in a humanitarian crisis situation.

Dr Ray-Bennett added: “We will work closely with the consortium partners to disseminate our findings to promote communication and action amongst the target audience in the Government of Bangladesh and other relevant stakeholders.

“We will develop policy briefs for information dissemination in collaboration with Family Planning Associations in Bangladesh, Pakistan and IPPF-SAR and we will also aim to implement the ‘proven intervention’ in 10 other countries where IPPF is present.”