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Project Date: April 2018 – March 2020
Grant Value: Type A – FJ $313,600
Area of Focus: Maritime outreach program (women’s empowerment and women’s health)
About the Project
Fiji has a youthful population with 48% under 25 years of age and women, youth and children are most at risk of sexual violence and abuse and require confidential access to specialised services to achieve their rights. There are high rates of sexual assault and correspondingly high rates of teenage pregnancies which impede girls’ access to tertiary education and limit their engagement in development dialogues and leadership. There is low contraceptive prevalence (40%) and ongoing epidemics in STI’s (such as Syphilis and Chlamydia). The MHMS has reported high rates of HPV and reported a number of Zika cases (an STI) in the Northern Division, indicating an urgent need for improved access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Human Rights (SRHR) information and services and young girls have limited access to SRHR services. There are also high rates of cervical cancer and breast cancer (the latter having the highest death rate for women in Fiji) and gaps in SRH services to rural women as well a significant lack of patient advocacy nationally.
The provision of quality SRHR services will decrease maternal and infant mortality rates and improve health outcomes for women and girls in maritime areas. As women with access to SRHR services have greater choices and are more able to cope with stress, change, and disaster (e.g. climate change). Research from the Brookings Institution USA shows that “empowering girls and women through a combination of education and family planning is the number one thing the world can do to address climate change, which impacts the maritime communities foremost.
The project will take the MSP Girl Empowered Program out to the maritime islands of Fiji. It has been designed to educate and empower women and girls as SRHR education creates young rural women who not only have smaller families, but are activists for change. The GE program includes a hygiene component, providing washable menstruation pads (e.g. Days for Girls) as a sustainable and environmentally friendly option to enable girls to stay in school during their menses and to contribute to their confidence and dignity.
MSP creates spaces to allow women and youth to meaningfully engage with local leaders, local governments (e.g. Specialised Police, Medical and Welfare officers) to improve health outcomes, strengthen human security and reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. MSP works in partnership with government and service agencies under formal arrangements to strengthen coordination and enhance sustainable outcomes.
A grant from the Fiji Women’s Fund will help MSP achieve outcomes across three key programmatic areas; Women and Girl Empowered Package, Clinical Outreach and strengthening Protection Networks through the;
– Provision of a range of tailored educational units, health and social services and products to disadvantaged youth in schools, women in markets and girls in rural communities and remote islands.
– Deployment of a clinical outreach team to maritime areas and remote rural locations to provide general medical services (testing and treatments), family planning, awareness on SRH, reproductive tract cancer awareness/testing and treatment, Mental and Child Health Care, good nutritional care, counseling and social services
– Working with local village leaders, mentors, MHMS personnel and police personnel to raise awareness on key issues of SRHR and ensuring women and girls have rapid access to support services and information. By providing a range of services which are linked nationally via the MSP clinics and the Child Helpline support service
Medical Services Pacific is a registered non-government organisation established in Fiji to provide women, youth and children with quality health care and social services. MSP uses a rights-based approach to sexual reproductive and health agency providing innovative solutions. MSP is widely known for establishing the first integrated and dedicated services for survivors of sexual violence (One Stop Shop/Post Rape Care Clinic) providing medical services, counselling, and legal aid.