In the poorest, most remote areas of the world, health services are often hard to come by. Communities are marginalized economically and geographically; people often do not seek preventative care and are not reached by primary and secondary health services.
Reproductive health and family planning messages and services often do not reach these groups. According to demographic and health survey reports, in nearly every country, the poorest quintile also have the highest fertility rates, lowest contraceptive prevalence rates (CPR), and least amount of knowledge of contraception methods. And when crisis strikes, access to basic health services declines even more as resources are diverted to deal with the emergency. That’s why the theme of this year’s World Population Day, “vulnerable populations in emergencies,” observed July 11, is so important.
During humanitarian crises, women and children are especially vulnerable. More than a year after the start of the largest Ebola outbreak since the disease was discovered, assessments show that the gains that had been made in reproductive, maternal, and child health in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are in danger of regressing. Even those not affected by Ebola itself have been greatly affected by the diversion of health resources.