More than half of all maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths occur in places responding to humanitarian crises. 
More than half of all maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths occur in places responding to humanitarian crises. 

Women-Centered Health

Designing solutions for women-centered health prorams to save lives and provide choice.

The Problem

Too often in humanitarian contexts, mothers and newborns are dying at alarmingly high rates in places affected by crisis and conflict. Countries with current humanitarian appeals account for 64% of maternal deaths and 50% of all newborn deaths. Many of these deaths are preventable, yet critical sexual and reproductive healthcare remains inaccessible, meaning millions of women and girls in crisis lack access to basic contraception, information on safe pregnancies, and abortion care if needed.

Why current approaches are inadequate

Many of these deaths are preventable with existing interventions, but this care is almost exclusively delivered in formal health facilities like clinics or hospitals. For women living in conflict settings, it might be extremely dangerous or costly to reach the closest facility. Moreover, these facilities may be damaged from conflict and operating with reduced staff, leading to an overall reduction in accessible places of care.

To respond to the unique challenges and risks faced by adolescent girls in humanitarian contexts, the IRC has created a new global program model and resource package for adolescent girls.
To respond to the unique challenges and risks faced by adolescent girls in humanitarian contexts, the IRC has created a new global program model and resource package for adolescent girls.

Our solution

Instead of expecting women to travel long distances for critical and lifesaving care, Airbel is designing interventions to bring healthcare directly to homes and communities, even in the most challenging of contexts. Our solutions will decentralize care from facilities, providing products, delivery channels, and support for women to self-manage their contraception and abortion needs. The IRC is innovating and scaling simple, cost-effective, and proven solutions that result in fewer unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, safer pregnancy, and childbirth, reduced physical and emotional harm from gender-based violence, and reduced morbidity from sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

Shifting the status quo

Crucial to our innovations in women-centered care, is advocating for international organizations and governments to expand healthcare access for women. Airbel teams are highly engaged with health ministries to drive change through evidence and policy shifts. This work has the opportunity to make access to sexual and reproductive health a reality for tens of millions of women in the hardest-to-reach contexts

Related Projects

Multiple countriesCompleted

Assessing the feasibility and effectiveness of COMPASS programming to prevent  violence against adolescent girls

Findings from these studies combined indicate very high acceptability and feasibility of the COMPASS program. While no significant changes related to violence were observed, numerous secondary outcomes such as gender norms, aspirational attitudes, and increased social networks were improved.

Explore Project
Multiple countriesCompleted

Building a Research Foundation for the Integration of Menstrual Hygiene Management into Emergencies

Explore Project
Multiple countriesOngoing

Community-Based Maternal and Newborn Care

Bringing life-saving maternal and newborn care interventions closer to home in humanitarian and fragile settings

Explore Project
Democratic Republic of CongoCompleted

Determinants of Uptake of Intermittent Preventative Treatment for Malaria Among Pregnant Women in South Kivu

Explore Project
Multiple countriesOngoing

Ensuring Quality Access and Learning for Mothers and Newborns in Conflict-Affected Contexts (EQUAL)

Ensuring Quality Access and Learning (EQUAL) for Mothers and Newborns in Conflict-Affected Contexts is a multi-country research consortium generating evidence on effective approaches to deliver life-saving maternal and newborn health care in countries affected by conflict.

Explore Project
NigeriaOngoing

Generating evidence on self-managed contraception in humanitarian settings

Identify existing self-managed contraception practices, entry points and challenges in Borno and Adamawa States in Northeast Nigeria and increase access to self-managed family planning.

Explore Project

Latest Updates

  • Health system resilience during COVID-19 understanding SRH service adaptation in North Kivu

    There is often collateral damage to health systems during epidemics, affecting women and girls the most, with reduced access to non-outbreak related services, particularly in humanitarian settings. This rapid case study examines sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when the COVID-19 hit, towards the end of an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, and in a context of protracted insecurity.

    External link
  • EQUAL Research Website

    Ensuring Quality, Access, and Learning for Maternal and Neonatal Health in Humanitarian Contexts (EQUAL)

    External link
  • Prioritization of maternal and newborn health policies and their implementation in the eastern conflict affected areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo: a political economy analysis

    External link