New Technologies and Approaches
Mildred* is a nurse midwife working in a refugee camp. During an extremely busy day in the labor room, she noticed that a woman who had recently given birth was bleeding excessively. By the time Mildred rushed to her, the woman was unconscious. Mildred immediately gave the woman appropriate medicines and checked for the cause of bleeding. Since no blood was available, Mildred wrapped the woman in a neoprene garment called the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG). When blood became available, Mildred transfused one unit. In two hours, the woman was stable and regained consciousness. The garment helped buy time for the woman until appropriate treatment could be offered.
In crisis settings, health workers are in high demand and short supply. And women and girls often pay the price, with poor reproductive health care. The shortage of well-trained health workers is a global phenomenon; we are far from meeting current needs, which experts estimate would require 4.3 million health workers globally. However, isolated and impoverished regions affected by crises feel the shortage most acutely. To address this complex challenge, it has become increasingly important to explore effective and efficient technologies and services. The Women’s Refugee Commission is investigating “task-shifting” or “task-sharing” models of care—where different health workers take on tasks traditionally handled by others. We are also exploring and advocating for promising new and underutilized reproductive health technologies in humanitarian settings. We aim to encourage dialogue between relief and development agencies in order to explore new ways to meet the ever-growing health needs of populations in crisis.
- The Women’s Refugee Commission is spearheading partnerships, research and advocacy around new and underutilized reproductive health technologies and service delivery approaches in humanitarian settings. Read about the 2008 consultation we co-hosted with the organization PATH that brought together leaders from the humanitarian, health, development and research fields.
- We implemented a pilot project of community-based distribution of family planning services with partners in Malakal, South Sudan. Read a short report summarizing our activities. This report is also available in Arabic.
- We are working with local partners on a community-based model of postrape care along the Thai-Burma border, to examine whether this type of care is safe and feasible in a humanitarian setting where insecurity and other barriers hinder people’s access to clinics and hospitals.
- We are researching and advocating for the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG). The NASG may be a promising technology to help save the lives of women who have given birth, are haemorrhaging and are far from a hospital. Read more about the use of the NASG in refugee camps and surrounding host communities in western Tanzania.
- The Women’s Refugee Commission has developed universal information, education and communication (IEC) materials for humanitarian relief workers to distribute to communities about priority reproductive health services (as outlined in the MISP, a set of priority practices for health care professionals). The materials are adaptable to different countries and contexts as needed.
- We developed and launched Mama: Together for Safe Births in Crises as a professional community of practice for frontline maternal health workers in crisis settings. This project is designed to increase support and knowledge sharing for these health care workers through a Facebook and text messaging platform.
Reports and Tools
*Names changed for anonymity