Maternal and Women’s Health Crisis in Syria

Maternal and Women's Health Crisis in Syria

Thousands of pregnant women, infants, and young children continue to flee the bombardments in northwest Syria. Pregnant women are among 1 in 3 displaced families, according to a new World Vision report. Additionally, half of the families interviewed for the report included a breastfeeding woman and a young child.

The magnitude of the violence in Idlib is causing a mass exodus, with more than 450,000 Syrians fleeing the region. Refugees camps in the surrounding areas are becoming increasingly unlivable, and families are being forced to settle in orchards or fields where they lack access to sanitation, running water, healthcare, and security.

For pregnant or breastfeeding women, the situation is even worse.

Many recent reports from the region detail how women are being forced to give birth under trees, and newborn babies are being subjected to harsh elements without medical care in the days after their birth. “Pregnant and breastfeeding women, alongside children, are some of the most vulnerable in crises like this. Without access to healthcare or sanitation facilities, their chances of delivering a healthy baby and keeping that child safe and well are significantly reduced. Women and children urgently need access to healthcare and clean, protected shelters,” says Mays Nawayseh, Protection Adviser for Syria at World Vision.

Unfortunately, the situation in Syria is not unique. Over half of the maternal deaths worldwide occur in countries that are experiencing conflict, according to the World Economic Forum. Sexual violence, lack of healthcare, and displacement are among the leading contributors to this figure, all of which occur before, during and after a conflict. However, despite the high death rate among women and girls in areas of conflict, maternal health is often overlooked.

The healthcare system in Syria has been destroyed.

The crisis in Syria deteriorated basic healthcare services across much of the country. Hostilities have caused widespread damage and destruction to the healthcare infrastructure, including the bombing of hospitals and the targeting of doctors.

Some 46 per cent of Syria’s health facilities, including maternal health service, are either partially functional or not functional, with some 167 health facilities completely destroyed.

Pregnant adolescent girls and their babies are at high risk of medical complications and death.

They constitute a substantial high-risk group in Syria, with early marriage reported to take place in 57 per cent of assessed communities, and pregnant girls under 18 representing about 12 to 15 per cent of the deliveries taking place in health facilities.

In addition, there is insufficient access to curative and preventive nutrition services, requiring interventions to be delivered at scale, especially skilled maternal, infant and young child nutrition support. Lack of access to health services and harmful coping strategies such as meal reduction are some of the causes linked to deteriorating maternal nutrition.

MFA Women's Relief Program

Visit MFA Women’s Relief Program webpage to learn more about how you can help Syrian women and mothers in need.