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The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) consists of coveralls that will augment the government's efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic while ensuring continuity of essential reproductive health response services – was handed over to the Ministry earlier this week.

In March, UNFPA Pacific provided the Health Ministry with additional PPE for COVID-19 preparedness, including safety goggles face shields, respirator masks, surgical masks, and isolation gowns. The PPE is intended to be used by sexual and reproductive health workers to ensure continuity of sexual and reproductive healthcare during the COVID-19 response. In addition to the PPE, UNFPA Pacific also supplied the Ministry with dignity kits for women and girls impacted by COVID-19, who required support with menstrual hygiene management, as well as dignity kits for women with disabilities. The dignity kits have been customised for the women and girls of the Pacific and include multiple items such as reusable pads, soap, a torch, and a whistle. 

The sexual and reproductive health commodities being supplied by UNFPA include long-acting reversible methods of contraception, such as implants and intrauterine devices, injectable contraceptives, oral contraceptive pills, and emergency contraception. These supplies will help ensure the people of Fiji continue to have access to a range of contraception methods and will contribute significantly to prevent unintended pregnancies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funded under the Australian Government Regional Prepositioning Initiative Phase III for the Pacific, clean delivery kits for individual and skilled birth attendants’ use were donated to selected field hospitals and health centres in containment zones. Based on the 2017 population census, the total population of the Lami – Suva – Nausori containment zones is 308, 615 out of which 4,258 women are currently pregnant in this population.

Clean delivery kits are intended for use by reproductive health service providers services at community and primary health care facilities. This is to do all we can to ensure that women deliver safely especially during humanitarian emergencies when health services are disrupted. These kits are designed to meet the needs of the 10,000 population for three months. The clean delivery kits will complement the deployment of UNFPA senior retired midwives that are currently supporting the continuity of essential SRH services. An estimated 1200 pregnant women over three months will benefit from this donation.

These kits are intended to speed up the provision of appropriate life-saving sexual reproductive health services in any humanitarian emergency. The Fijian Minister for Health and Medical Services Hon. Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete thanked UNFPA Pacific for the support of PPE and RH kits. “This is not the first time UNFPA Pacific have supported us and their technical expertise we have used often especially in reproductive and maternal health,” said the Minister. He said that PPEs are vital for the frontlines and so important that we stockpile as every country in the world would like to access and stockpile PPE. The Ministry looks forward to more interactions with UNFPA Pacific.

UNFPA Pacific Representative and Director Dr. Jennifer Butler said the Ministry will distribute the PPE and other supplies to prioritised health facilities across the country. "Ensuring health workers have the support and supplies needed to provide safe sexual and reproductive health services can be a matter of life and death for women and girls. The support from the Government of Australia is highly appreciated and the Ministry's efforts to combat complex health challenges during Covid-19 are commendable," concluded Dr. Butler.

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled.