Catalysing change in Sexual and reproductive health care

Access to sexual and reproductive health care is a basic human right. Yet integrated and fully comprehensive reproductive health services are not the norm in most emergency settings. People are displaced from their homes for many reasons, and an overwhelming number of preventable deaths and illnesses related to reproductive health affect populations in crisis. The people within these affected communities require reproductive health care. Our sense of global responsibility demands that we address their urgent need.


The Reproductive Health Access, Information and Services in Emergencies (RAISE) Initiative is catalyzing change in how sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is addressed in emergencies.

Initially developed by Columbia University's Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health in the Mailman School of Public Health and Marie Stopes International (MSI), the RAISE Initiative aims to address the SRH needs of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and others affected by humanitarian crisis.  We work by applying the power of cooperative partnerships with humanitarian and development agencies, governments, United Nations (UN) bodies, advocacy agencies and academic institutions and adhering to the public health principles of equity and evidence-based practice.

The Need

High quality SRH services are among the most basic of human needs. They are also among the most poorly addressed needs of displaced persons. Women are especially affected by SRH service gaps, both in crisis settings and in general.

Access to comprehensive SRH services and information is crucial to the wellbeing of populations that have been affected by humanitarian emergencies. When SRH care is limited or absent, the toll - in terms of life-threatening medical emergencies; harm to women and their families; and the violation of human rights - is profound.

Today, emergency displacement is rarely a short-term event. Often, people uprooted by emergencies must live far from their communities of origin, in foreign regions or countries, for months or years at a time. Displaced populations face unique challenges - such as the consequences of rape as a weapon of war, the use of sex to obtain basic necessities of life and the health risks posed by poor sanitation, nutrition, and inconsistent access to shelter - which make certain SRH risks all the more probable.

The RAISE Initiative holds that comprehensive SRH services must be recognized as a fundamental necessity and right for populations displaced by emergencies - and, in a broader sense, as an integral part of basic health care for all, just as food, water, sanitation and shelter are commonly accepted as primary needs.

The Approach

The RAISE Initiative works with partners and international consortia to advance the conditions needed to make SRH services in emergencies a basic standard of care. RAISE facilitates technical support, research, documentation, and use and dissemination of findings. RAISE also participates in advocacy efforts for improved SRH. We focus on components of SRH that remain too often unaddressed: the provision of comprehensive contraceptive services and comprehensive abortion care (CAC) including post-abortion care and safe abortion services.



RAISE engages in implementation science to assist partners to support program implementation, training, monitoring and evaluation and other activities that aid in delivery of good quality contraceptive and CAC services. RAISE supports partners to improve their capacity to recognize and respond to opportunities to improve these services and to provide the supportive environment the providers need for their performance to improve.


RAISE provides support on the development of M&E systems and tools throughout the process from collecting data through using data to improve services and guide large-scale strategic planning.


RAISE makes research findings readily available through the RAISE website, professional journals and conferences.


RAISE developed clinical training manuals for family planning, post abortion care and emergency obstetric care which are available under Resources on this website.  Mary Stopes International continues to provide clinical training at the RAISE Training Centre at Eastleigh Nursing Home in Nairobi, Kenya.

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