January 19, 2022

UMR Joins Forces with Academia to Strengthen Projects in Gaza and Bangladesh

UMR Joins Forces with Academia to Strengthen Projects in Gaza and Bangladesh

UMR has partnered with the Access to Health (ATH) Project at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law to advance the organization’s healthcare projects in Palestine and Bangladesh. ATH is an interdisciplinary health and human rights initiative composed of graduate and faculty across Northwestern’s law, business, medicine and public health programs. The collaboration will provide ATH students with a new experiential learning opportunity working in the humanitarian sphere. Our goal is to utilize academia and research to better inform UMR’s approach to providing better healthcare access to vulnerable populations across the two regions.

In Palestine, UMR has long worked in areas like Gaza to provide basic necessities such as food, water, medical supplies, medications, medical equipment, winter items, fresh meat, children’s backpacks, and more. This time, UMR is searching for longer-term solutions to some of the challenges brought on by the limited access to resources in the Palestinian Territories. One such project will be an assessment on water access, and how UMR can increase consistent access to clean drinking water for families living in Gaza. A collaboration with the ATH team might include the development of a needs assessment, or a landscape review of the practices of other organizations to circumvent restrictive import policies that affect the delivery of international aid into Gaza.

In Bangladesh, UMR is seeking to tackle healthcare access for Rohingya women and girls, due to the fact that they make up more than half of the population of Cox’s Bazar refugee camp. A large portion of these girls and women are in their reproductive age and are in need sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services including pregnancy and delivery care, family planning services, menstrual health, safe abortion, STDs, etc. In spite of the interventions of many national and international organizations, there is a serious lack of clinical management for sexual and reproductive health care for girls and adolescents in the camps. Moreover, this group of Rohingya refugees are reluctant to seek SRH care since their healthcare seeking behavior is highly influenced by the orthodox and conservative religious and cultural values, and the continuous deprivation of services that this community experienced in their own country in Myanmar. Lack of awareness and limited access to SRH cares results sexual violence, child marriage, unintended and unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, higher rates of maternal mortality, etc. Therefore, these problems need a multidimensional approach. UMR’s partnership with ATH will seek to address these issues to make sure that SRH care is not only accessible but to also provide health education and awareness around these issues within the community.

This partnership will provide Northwestern University students who enroll in the course to research, assess and innovate new approaches to these common issues based on feedback provided by UMR, which will ultimately strengthen UMR’s interventions for years to come.

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