Facilitators and barriers in implementing the Minimum Initial Services Package (MISP) for reproductive health in Nepal post-earthquake

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Original Article

Background:
Following the Nepal earthquake in April 2015, UNFPA estimated that 1.4 million women of reproductive age were affected, with approximately 93,000 pregnant and 28,000 at risk of sexual violence. A set of priority reproductive health (RH) actions, the Minimum Initial Services Package (MISP), was initiated by government, international and local actors. The purpose of this study was to identify the facilitators and barriers affecting the implementation of priority RH services in two districts.

Methods:
In September 2015, a mixed methods study design was used in Kathmandu and Sindhupalchowk districts to assess the implementation of the priority RH services five months post-earthquake. Data collection activities included 32 focus group discussions with male and female participants aged 18–49; 26 key informant interviews with RH, gender-based violence (GBV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) experts; and 17 health facility assessments.

Results:
The implementation of priority RH services was achieved in both districts. In Kathmandu implementation of emergency RH services started within days of the earthquake. Facilitating factors for successful implementation included disaster preparedness; leadership and commitment among national, international, and district level actors; resource mobilization; strong national level coordination; existing reproductive and child health services and community outreach programs; and supply chain management. Barriers included inadequate MISP training for RH coordinators and managers; weak communication between national and district level stakeholders; inadequate staffing; under-resourced and fewer facilities in rural areas; limited attention given to local GBV and HIV organizations; low availability of clinical management of rape services; and low awareness of GBV services and benefits of timely care.

Conclusion:
Ensuring RH is included in emergency preparedness and immediate response efforts and is continued through the transition to comprehensive care is critical for national governments and humanitarian response agencies. The MISP for RH remains a critical component of response efforts, and the humanitarian community should consider these learnings in future emergency response.

Keywords:
Reproductive health, Minimum initial services package (MISP), Nepal earthquake; emergency response

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