SPRINT Initiative

Building Parliamentary Groups on Population
and Development in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste

Common Ground

SPRINT Initiative
Reproductive health in crisis - study tour to Philippines

ARHA is involved in the innovative SPRINT Initiative (Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme in Crisis and Post-Crisis Situations in East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific), managed by the International Planned Parenthood Federation and funded by AusAID.

SPRINT fills an urgent need in responding to crisis and post-crisis situations. Sexual and reproductive health needs are often overlooked in humanitarian responses, yet 75% of all displaced populations are women and children, and an estimated 20 percent of women of reproductive age in a refugee population will be pregnant at any one time.

Senator Anne McEwen from the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development and Jane Singleton, ARHA CEO recently participated in a study tour to the Philippines to see SPRINT in action in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy, which devastated most of Luzon Island and caused massive floods in Manila in September 2009. This is what Jane had to say after two days on the tour -

"Yesterday we went to visit families who live in a drainage pipe at the coast; they had great difficulties with the influx of water with the typhoon. We had to crawl in and meet a couple of families, one woman with five children. She could not stand up. Needless to say neither could we. They manage to hook onto the power illegally and so have a light... And near the entrance there was a pen of chooks. The father had been stabbed the week before and the social worker had brought him some antibiotics.

We also visited families in slighter better conditions in huts on floats, clambered over planks through mounds of rubbish and stink to the houses which inside were well kept but very basic and cramped. Four families in three very small rooms.

We hear very little about the Philippines now in Australia but the birth rate is climbing.

Today we went to see the flooded areas. The water had receded but more than two months afterwards they’re still shoveling stinking rotten mud. The evacuation camps are emptying but in one school there are still twenty families in one school room. Assistance post crisis is urgent. The food supplies have been stopped and somehow they have to make some income to buy food. The aftermath of it is very very hard.

In another place we distributed the first of the MISP (Minimum Initial Service Package for Reproductive Health in Crisis), which are in effect safe birthing kits in the flooded areas. There were 125 pregnant women - some of them looked 13 or 14 years old. Who knows how they manage in those circumstances but at least there is a chance of them having the babies safely… And in Mindanao it is very dangerous but the need is great. Displaced persons camps, violence, rape and of course child birth and the situation just drags on and on..."

Click here to read more about SPRINT

Click here to read Senator McEwen's speech in the Australian Parliament on SPRINT and the Philippines study tour

Building Parliamentary Groups on Population
and Development in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste

The Australian Reproductive Health Alliance (ARHA) has funding from UNFPA to establish Parliamentary Groups on Population and Development in Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste. ARHA is the secretariat to the Australian Parliamentary Group on Population and Development.

The meeting to formalize the PNG Parliamentary Group on Population and Development was held on 16 May 2009 at Loloata Island, just outside of Port Moresby. Fourteen parliamentarians attended. The Group adopted a constitution and work plan to take it to the end of the year.

The Hon. Malakai Tabar MP was elected inaugural President and Hon. Dame Carol Kidu MP, Senior Vice President. Vice Presidents elected were: Hon. Posi Menai MP, Hon. Theo Zurenouc MP, Hon. Martin Aini MP, Hon. Boka Kondra MP. Vice Presidents were elected to represent regional and party diversity. The Group also elected a Secretary and Treasurer, Hon. Benjamin Mul MP, and Hon. Ken Fairweather MP as Patron.

The President, the Hon Malakai Tabar MP, Member for Gazelle said that teenage pregnancies, maternal deaths and poverty were serious issues in his electorate and across the nation.

The Group has been the brain child of the Hon. Dame Carol Kidu MP, Minister for Community Development and the only female parliamentarian in PNG.

Senator Claire Moore, Chair of the Australian Parliamentary Group on Population and Development attended the meeting and explained the role and work of the Australian Group and the interface with other Groups in the region.

Parliamentarians also heard from Professor Glen Mola, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of PNG about population and development issues facing the country and were briefed on the ICPD Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals by UNFPA experts.

The meeting was funded by UNFPA and supported by ARHA, which is acting as the interim secretariat for the Group. In a follow up to the May 16 meeting, the Group organized for Professor Mola to brief over 40 parliamentarians and parliamentary staff on population and development issues facing PNG at a lunch on May 20 at Parliament House.

Update, November 2009

Members of the Papua New Guinea PGPD participated in a media and advocacy training workshop on Loloata Island, just outside of Port Moresby, on 28-29 November 2009. The workshop was facilitated by the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance (ARHA) and was supported by UNFPA PNG.

Participants were instructed on strategies for effectively using the media to deliver messages of population and development and sexual and reproductive health to their colleagues and to their communities.

ARHA has funding from UNFPA to establish Parliamentary Groups in PNG and Timor-Leste.

Work is also continuing to establish a PGPD in Timor-Leste, where there is a great need for sharing of information on population and development, and sexual and reproductive health. ARHA conducted a scoping visit to Dili in August 2009, and plans to return in 2010 to work with parliamentarians to form a Group.

Common Ground

Common Ground is an awareness raising and advocacy project set up to advance the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Common Ground is an alliance between ARHA and Sexual Health & Family Planning Australia (SH&FPA) and is funded by the Asia Pacific Alliance.

The Common Ground project aims to:
–promote the links between population, environment and development issues; and
–increase the level of official development assistance for reproductive health and action on domestic environment and population issues.

Common Ground has recently launched a traveling photo exhibition, called Common Ground: visions shared. The photos were taken in Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea and illustrate the intersecting issues of population, reproductive health, the environment and the Millennium Development Goals.

Past Projects

Asia-Pacific Sexual & Reproductive Health Matters Network
Peace Scholarship
Pacific Projects

Asia-Pacific Sexual & Reproductive Health Matters (APSRHM) Network

This is joint project between ARHA and GenderHealth at the University of NSW. The aim of  the network is to increase information sharing and discussion in the area of sexual and reproductive health in both Australia and the broader Asia Pacific region.

The e-newsletter provides information on upcoming conferences, reminds participants of calls for papers, posts recently published papers or links to papers and provides a platform for interaction.

Ultimately this project hopes to increase Australia’s presence and promote Australian expertise at major international conferences as well as provide a vehicle for academics to learn of the work currently being undertaken in the region on sexual and reproductive health.

Peace Scholarship

On International Women's Day 2006 ARHA and UNIFEM announced that we will be jointly sponsoring two East Timorese women to participate in the Peace Scholarship Program which provides opportunities to study abroad in Australia for one or two semesters. The two East Timorese women will study a health related course at an Australian University.

ARHA Pacific Projects

In 1999, ARHA began exploring options for developing projects in the Pacific.

ARHA ran an international program to further the aims of the ICPD by working in partnership with Pacific Island NGOs on public education programs on reproductive health, reproductive rights and sexuality education. Support was provided to several Pacific countries but the main focus was in Papua New Guinea, which along with Solomon Islands has the poorest reproductive status in the Pacific region. Women's literacy is low, maternal mortality high, contraceptive prevalence low and domestic violence is common. HIV/AIDS is increasing rapidly in Papua New Guinea with new cases being diagnosed daily in the highlands.

Pacific Project Development page






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