In the Bekaa valley humedica teams provide basic medical care for Syrian refugees. Photo: humedica
Prenatal care in refugee camps
humedica midwife provides specific aid for mothers-to-be
Life in a provisional refugee camp far way from home is already difficult even without health problems. If additional challenges like pregnancies complicate these circumstances further, many female refugees feel they have to confront a Herculean task. How to ensure the baby´s health during the pregnancy, where to find a safe place to give birth – these are only two of the many questions pregnant women have to worry about.
To assist as many expectant and young mothers as possible on their way, humedica employs in its teams for the medical treatment of Syrian refugees in the Lebanon not only doctors and pharmacists, but also midwives. Their work focuses on prenatal care, but also includes postnatal treatment as well as the planning and implementation of information campaigns. Up to 200 women benefit each month from this important help in the various refugee camps along the Syrian border.
In her personal report midwife Sandy talks about the daily challenges and the biggest problems in the scope of her work:
“Since I began to work for humedica as midwife in den Syrian refugee camps in August 2014, I have experienced many behaviour changes with respect to the topics pregnancy and childbirth. At the start of our help campaign many pregnant women did not take the medication and vitamins we prescribed. They felt good and therefore have thought that the drug support was not necessary. Quite often they have then suffered from characteristic symptoms of vitamin deficiency or anaemia later on.
But in the meantime our work shows its positive effects: both mothers-to-be and new mothers with their offspring come to our regular consultation hours in the refugee camps for medical examination, to ask for medication or to clarify open questions.
Today they also voluntarily accept our offer, in addition to our basic medical care, to visit a stationary hospital to make an echography each pregnancy trimester and – if necessary – to carry out blood tests. Since we have pointed out the risks and possible complications of house or, in this case, tent births in the course of our awareness campaign, the women increasingly give birth to their children in near-by hospitals. Naturally the fact that the refugee assistance organisation UNHCR nowadays takes over 75 per cent of the costs plays a major role in their decision.
Within the scope of my work I try to provide the women with as much useful behaviour advice as possible. For example I inform them that it is not healthy neither for them or their offspring to bear children in a row or what kinds of contraception exist. Family planning is a crucial topic, which I concentrate on while counselling.
But despite the basically positive development time and again I must nevertheless face smaller and bigger challenges. It still remains difficult to arise awareness for certain topics and to foster behavioural change. Especially when women for years have certain convictions, which are passed on and on in all refugee camps. Many women e.g. decide not to take important dietary supplements, because they firmly believe that these will initiate an abortion. And so I explain again and again, how important these vitamins are and that they will positively influence the pregnancy progress instead of finishing it.
Looking back to the passed two years I remember in particular one female patient: During our consultation hours in a refugee camp we have met a pregnant woman, who suffered from Hepatitis and therefore wanted to have an abortion. I have tried to explain that her baby would not automatically contract this disease from her and offered her a specific treatment, which would ease her suffering and improve the progress of her pregnancy. We could finally transfer her to a local gynaecologist, who carried out further tests and administered a special therapy, which was paid for by humedica.
After eight month of pregnancy this woman has given birth a little too early so that the little baby had to stay in the premature ward for some more days. Some tests later it became clear that the bay had not contracted the Hepatitis disease from his mother and could leave the hospital completely healthy. Time and again such cases prove to me how important our help in the refugee camps is at the end of the day.“
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