Better care for women and children after Pacific disasters
A Fiji health conference is told of the need for better care for women and children after disasters.
A justice advocate has told participants at a health conference in Fiji that women and children need to be better catered for in the aftermath of natural disasters.
The director for women and children in Vanuatu, Dorosday Kenneth, has been involved in assessing the response to Cyclone Pam, which battered the country in March.
The health and climate change conference in Nadi has heard that women and children are 14 times more likely to die during natural disasters.
Dorosday Kenneth told Bridget Tunnicliffe there's no doubt that these groups were left more vulnerable in Vanuatu in the days following Cyclone Pam.
DOROSDAY KENNETH: In terms of access to food supplies that were distributed, when there was access in areas where food was distributed it was not the kind of food that you would say in terms of intake for children, pregnant women, lactating mothers. It was standard food items that were distributed to households so we tend to find that female-headed households were not provided the required amount. They were lumped into the family because the daughter in most cases were counted as one household with their parents.
BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: So a more specific response for those people is needed?
DK: Exactly. As we know during emergency or disaster situations we need to look at specific needs of men and women. Everyone here is affected but the access to food and others are not distributed evenly.
BT: What's the situation now in terms of people's health? Are we still seeing the effects of the cyclone?
DK: Yes certainly. Currently with the El Nino effect a lot of areas that were badly hit during TC Pam were slowly recovering but now with El Nino effect on food supplies, especially those in the islands, the situation is getting worse. We were just there two weeks ago on the island of Tanna and we were shocked to see that there were cases of malnutrition. When we visited the hospital we had to get some of the children from north Tanna sent to the hospital because we believe that that is the best way where they could get the supervision from the health authorities and nurses and also assist us in getting help in food supplies and also more nutritious food for children and people with disabilities, especially children.
BT: Do you think that people in the isolated outer island areas are starting to resign themselves to the fact that they may have to move into main centres?
DK: There have been discussions around what options should be pursued. In this circumstances where government has just been moving into rebuilding, constructing necessary infrastructure, housing but at the same time we are hit now by El Nino so discussions are still taking place on what should be the best option in areas where necessary action must take place.
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