Stories

Primary Healthcare System Strengthening

On the occasion of International Women's Day, we would like to take a moment to recognize and appreciate the hard work and the importance of services provided by community midwives in serving affected communities.

On International Women’s Day, we would like to take a moment to recognize and appreciate the hard work of community midwives in serving affected communities. These dedicated professionals provide essential services to improve the health and well-being of individuals and families in some of the most challenging environments. Through their commitment to providing quality care, community midwives are making a significant contribution to the health and well-being of women, children, and families around the world. We thank them for their tireless efforts and wish them all the best in their continued work.

In the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Medair supports primary health care through health care centres and the surrounding areas. With many women struggling with the transportation costs to access the health care centres – particularly when pregnant or with young children – the interventions of Community Midwives are playing an increasingly important role.

Medair has a network of 15 Community Midwives, who are linked to the health centres. Community Midwives play a key role in providing preventive care, providing home-based care, and support to pregnant and lactating women. Community midwives identify and address potential health issues before they become more serious, including providing access to health information, ante-natal care (ANC), post-natal care (PNC), maternal health concerns, breastfeeding, and infant and young child feeding (IYCF).

A female primary caregiver oversees the session of an affected community member holding her baby while she receives a consultation in a tented home.

Fadia, a Syrian mother holds her daughter during a midwife consultation session in a tented home while Solange, Medair’s Community Midwife (CMW) stands behind her at an informal settlement in Qab Elias, the Bekaa Valley on the 18th of October 2022. @Medair/Abdul Dennaoui

These issues have had a major impact on the health of mothers, babies, and young children. The rate of maternal mortality and morbidity has increased in recent years, due to the lack of access to quality healthcare, medical services, and poor nutrition. The low enrolment for ANC among Syrian refugee women and low access to SRH services contribute significantly to the risk of morbidity and mortality.

Before giving birth, with virtually no savings, Fadia, a 34-year-old Syrian community member residing in a tented home, was unable to afford maternity care. The ongoing crises, alongside the potential to accumulate debt, impeded her capacity to seek out maternity care. She says, “During a consultation in my home, I received physical examinations; my blood pressure, vital signs, and weight were checked, as well as the baby’s heartbeat was checked, to make sure it is healthy. With my current financial situation, I would not have been able to access this type of healthcare anywhere. All the information related to my pregnancy was provided to me. It comforts my mind to know that there are people looking after us.” Due to the support of ANC and awareness provided by a Community Midwife, Fadia was able to access the necessary services both pre- and post-partum. Through its project, 20,779 consultations were done by the Community Midwives and 109,787 individuals were reached by health/ and or nutrition promotion through Community Health Volunteers.

A female primary caregiver checks the blood pressure of an affected community member in a tented home.

Maha, Medair’s community health volunteer checks Hania, a Syrian community member’s blood pressure and oxygen levels through a finger machine as part of a community midwife visit for routine check ups in a tented home in an informal settlement in Qab Elias, the Bekaa Valley on the 18th of October 2022 . @Medair/Abdul Dennaoui

Breastfeeding awareness is another major component of Medair’s programming. Many women are not aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, and best feeding practices. The impact on both mother and child is detrimental, as breastfeeding is essential for promoting optimal nutrition and health and reduces the risk of malnutrition. Trained and qualified Community Midwives can teach and support women to use good lactation practices and provide their infants with the nutrition they need to thrive. The lack of transport infrastructure is particularly challenging for pregnant women, especially those in rural areas or under-served areas, to access health services at health clinics. By conducting household visits, the burden of transportation costs is lifted, enabling community members to access healthcare.

A female primary caregiver holds a baby.

Solange, Medair’s community midwife in the Bekaa Valley looks directly into the camera as she holds baby Khadija during a consultation with her mother Fatima, a vulnerbale Syrian at thier home in an informal settlement in Bar Elias, Bekaa Valley on the 2nd of November, 2021. @Medair/Abdul Dennaoui

“Midwifery is an essential part of any health system. Our goal is to strengthen the health system, through the implementation of good-quality midwifery. Working in partnership with other care providers – doctors, nurses, community, and health workers – we help to ensure that the woman, her baby and her family receive the right care at the right time. Most importantly, during these difficult times in Lebanon, we stand beside every mother and child” says Solange, Medair’s community midwife.

Through the provision of preventative care, breastfeeding/IYCF support, and reducing the reliance on transportation, Community Midwives play a key role in improving maternal health outcomes, by building relationships with the women and providing a safe environment for mothers to discuss and resolve their concerns. By providing these services, they are helping to promote positive health outcomes, as well as long-term health and well-being.

A female primary caregiver during a consultation session with an affected community member in a tented home.

Maha, Medair’s community health volunteer checks Syrian community member’s as part of a Midwife consultation session in a tented home in an informal settlement in Qab Elias, the Bekaa Valley on the 18th of October 2022. @Medair/Abdul Dennaoui

 


Medair services in The Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, are funded by, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and Chaine du Bonheur (CdB).

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.

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