By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

  YANGON, May 22, 2008 ( – “The United Nations will send nearly a quarter of a million condoms into cyclone-hit Myanmar to help needy survivors with no access to contraceptives,” a UN official says.

  UNFPA aid advisor Chaiyos Kunanusont said 72,800 condoms had so far been delivered to “survivors struggling to maintain their family planning after the storm hit in early May.”

“We don’t want regular use of contraception disrupted. An emergency usually damages the health system, so people don’t have access to condoms and contraceptives,” said Chaiyos.

“Reproductive Health Kits” developed for “the initial acute phase of an emergency,” are also high on the UN’s list of priority relief supplies. These kits include condoms, oral and injectable contraceptives (including the abortifacient morning-after pill) and IUD’s, as well as supplies and equipment such as razor blades and clean sheets to help in the safe delivery of babies.

  UNFPA also provides “manual vacuum aspirators, portable abortion devices that are easily used in primitive conditions such as refugee areas,” in its kits. (see coverage of the tsunami disaster of 2004 in Indonesia: UNFPA Calls for US $28m in Funding to Supply Condoms to Victims of Tsunami:

  Cyclone Nargis left at least 133,000 people dead or missing and an estimated 2.5 million in desperate need of clean water, food, medicine and shelter, 500,000 of which are children, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross.

  For these millions that have been left homeless and in desperate need of food, the idea of using what precious distribution resources there are to pass out condoms and “manual vacuum aspirators” to add to the death toll, must seem absurd.

  The Red Cross says an estimated 375 tons of food a day are needed in the hardest hit areas of Yangon and the Irrawaddy Delta to hold off starvation, but the Myanmar government continues to impede international aid by refusing to grant visas to international aid workers.

  UNFPA’s response to the deadly earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, that affected some 5.7 million people, was to “provide reproductive health supplies” as well as to ensure that pregnant women “receive proper emergency obstetric services (that is, abortion) when necessary,” according to the UNFPA website (


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