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  • A mobile medical team helped Nadia from Salamieh District safely give birth, providing follow-up support in breastfeeding and overcoming depression.
Aga Khan Health Services
Taking services to the patient: Mobile health teams in Syria

According to UN statistics, the maternal mortality ratio – the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births – in developing regions is 14 times higher than in developed regions. Following a decade of armed conflict, the economic volatility and food insecurity affecting much of Syria has repercussions for accessing health care.

As part of our humanitarian assistance, AKDN provides food and educational sessions to pregnant and lactating women in Syria. Supported by the United Nations Population Fund, we also dispatch mobile medical teams to provide maternal and child health services to communities who would otherwise have difficulty accessing such care. During 2020, these mobile units provided maternal and child health services to more than 12,500 Syrian women. 

Nadia*, from Salamieh District, suffered from high arterial pressure. Without medical help, she had lost her first foetus in the final months of pregnancy, necessitating a caesarean section. For her second pregnancy, she received antenatal care from a mobile medical team. A midwife, a doctor and a psychological support worker from her team describe how they worked together and with her family to respond to her needs.

Ghadeira Mahfoud, Nadia’s midwife, said:

“Nadia lives in difficult family conditions where she is not being followed up on her health. Her family finds that it is unacceptable for women and girls to travel to the nearest city for treatment. When we started visiting the farm where all her family resides, we noticed that some women, including Nadia, had difficulty seeking health services. After multiple persuasion sessions with the head of the family, we were able to meet the women and provide services to them during our monthly visit to the farms. Nadia began a second pregnancy despite the bad psychological impact of the first one. With this medical follow-up and foetal monitoring, Nadia had a successful pregnancy and a normal delivery.”

Dr Abeer Zaino added: “Some inflammatory complications were followed up and successfully overcome. Nadia also had perinatal depression and her condition was followed up. Despite the circumstances, she succeeded in achieving absolute breastfeeding for a period of six months.”

Ameera Alkatlabi offered psychological support: “Nadia lives with difficult family conditions, where she is exposed to degrees of domestic violence. She is forbidden to travel to obtain medical services, even though the farm where she resides is only 10 kilometres from the city, and she also finds it difficult to go visit her family in another village. She has suffered from many psychological pressures and perinatal depression, but behavioural therapy has helped her overcome the ordeal.”

Nadia’s baby is now a year and two months old.

*Name changed for privacy

International Day of the Midwife on 5 May provides an opportunity to honour the work of midwives and promote awareness of the crucial care they provide to mothers and their newborns.