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Bosnia and Herzegovina got eight certified MISP trainers, medical doctors, who successfully completed training on the “Minimum Initial Service Package for Sexual and Reproductive Health (MISP)“ in 2021. The training was delivered by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) BiH within the “Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina“, a joint programme of the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations (UN).

The basic MISP training, which was delivered online in June, made it possible for the participants to acquire knowledge about MISP and its goals. The participants who had successfully completed the training received a certificate, which was a requirement for participation in the Training of Trainers (ToT). The Training of Trainers, which was held physically in September, was an opportunity for the participants to acquire skills necessary for the transfer of knowledge to others so that they too become certified MISP trainers.   

The demanding training, delivered by experienced international MISP trainers, was completed by medical doctors from Banja Luka, Prijedor, Kalesija, Sarajevo, and Travnik. It helped them acquire the skills required for the organization of future MISP training sessions which will help professionals in the local communities to improve their response to sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence in crisis situations.

“The ultimate goal of the activities implemented by UNFPA within this Programme is to mainstream MISP into the local development strategies”, said the UNFP Representative for BiH, John Kennedy Mosoti, at the beginning of the training.  

Boško Kenjić, of the Swiss Embassy to BiH, said that the key elements which the Programme insists on are close cooperation with partner institutions in the country, institutional leadership, and sustainability of the project results.  “Disaster Risk Reduction implies a comprehensive approach to a better understanding of the risks, enhancement of preparedness, implementation of prevention measures, and building capacities for response to disasters. 

In case of a disaster, the response and activities of institutions must be adjusted to the new circumstances and must provide access to quality services. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown again the need for changing an approach and developing procedures to be implemented in crisis situations”, said Doctor Marina Milovanović, a previously certified MISP trainer in BiH, joined the participants of the training held in September. According to her, the Minimum Initial Service Package for Sexual and Reproductive Health is a priority set of life-saving activities which need to be recognized and implemented at the beginning of every humanitarian crisis.  

“Emergency situations make resources scarce, which may result in an increased risk of providing an inadequate response to the women’s needs during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care, an increased number of unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence etc. In order to reduce the number of consequences when it comes to sexual and reproductive health, it is necessary to react on time and to plan activities”, said dr. Milovanović.

Dr. Milovanović said that she had noticed through her participation in initial workshops, training sessions, and lectures on MISP, held across BiH over the past years, that healthcare workers were not trained enough in providing a response in the area of sexual and reproductive health in crisis situations, that there was no cooperation among all the stakeholders involved in providing a response to crises and that the importance of mainstreaming MISP into the local crisis response plans was not recognized initially.


“The participants acquired knowledge in the training and recognized the importance of the protection of sexual and reproductive health in emergencies and expressed the need for MISP training and clear instructions for taking action in a crisis”, said dr. Milovanović.  

Edina Kamberović, the medical doctor from Kalesija, who became a certified MISP trainer in September, said that she was particularly happy to see that the “Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in BiH“ included small local communities in BiH.  “BiH is the country which, unfortunately, has often been affected by crisis situations, which is the reason why such projects are extremely important. It is important that we keep up with the times and be ready to react to the potential future crises on time. Proper prevention and training may shorten the length of response, save lives and thereby accelerate recovery from a disaster. Small local communities are the most vulnerable parts of the state and their strengthening lays a good foundation for making the entire society stronger”, said dr. Kamberović. The knowledge she acquired through the MISP training, she said, will be immensely helpful in her day-to-day work.  “I have mastered new presentation techniques, which gives me a good foundation for achieving further progress in my academic and trainer work”,  dr. Kamberović added. 

Doctor Slađana Šiljak, of the Republika Srpska Public Health Institute, who is also a new MISP trainer, explained that the trainers of the United Nations Population Fund had provided clear instructions to the participants of the training from BiH as to how they could best prevent and reduce consequences and risks for the sexual and reproductive health of the population.
“The medical doctors, specialists in public health, gynecologys, family medicine, and psychiatry together acquired knowledge about crisis management in sexual and reproductive health. We can use the experiences from that training to adapt international recommendations to our own conditions and to prepare local communities for crisis management”, said dr. Šiljak.

As a result of the UNFPA activities, the Strategy for Improvement of Sexual and Reproductive Health in the Republika Srpska (2019-2029) recognizes MISP as a separate goal aimed at ensuring the provision of a multisectoral response, which includes training of healthcare workers and representatives of other relevant sectors and organizations responsible for providing services in this area in emergencies.