Martha Decker , Dr. PH Candidate
Worldwide, millions of individuals are forced to flee their homes due to war and violence. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) often lack the most basic necessities including water, food, and health services. These forced migrants rarely have any access to reproductive health resources such as family planning and treatment of STIs despite the recognition of widespread rape, sex for food and security, and gender-based violence that occurs both in transit and in refugee camps (Nordstrom 1999; Palmer, Lush and Zwi 1999). In fact, the Plan of Action from 1994 United Nation’s Conference on Population and Development specifically stated that “migrants and displaced persons…in many parts of the world have limited access to reproductive health care and may face specific serious threats to their reproductive health and rights” in their “often powerless situation”. Even after the war ends, individuals continue to suffer from the destruction of infrastructure, lack of trained personnel, and the loss of social networks and support.
Martha spent a month in Angola to research the linkages between forced migration and reproductive health in a post-conflict setting. She conducted semi-structured interviews with women in the peri-urban settlements (Samba and Viana) outside of Luanda, the capital, to learn about their experiences and needs. Additionally, she spoke with international donors and NGOs to gain a better understanding of the types of programs currently offered as well as the challenges in addressing reproductive health needs. This research will form the foundation for her DrPH dissertation.
Read Martha’s report here: Martha-Decker (PDF)