“When MAP’s midwives visit, we feel that someone cares about us”

Living conditions for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, who are living in overcrowded camps and are subject to discriminatory policies, have deteriorated significantly since the onset of Lebanon’s economic crisis. Now, 93% of Palestinian refugees in the country live in poverty, and with decreasing living standards come increasing risks to health which disproportionately affect women and young children.

Through home visits in refugee camps across Lebanon, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)’s team of community midwives and nurses provide high quality care, health and development check-ups for newborn children and their mothers, as well as mental health support.

When Raneem*, 24, was pregnant with her first child, MAP’s nurse Lamis helped her step-by-step on her journey. “It was my first pregnancy, so I was in great need of this support,” said Raneem, who lives in a small house in Ein el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, in the south of Lebanon, with her husband Ayman* and their eight-month-old baby.

Ayman was forced to flee from Syria after the war there and found work in a restaurant. But he lost his job four years ago and has struggled to find work since, due to the restrictions on Palestinians’ right to work, the COVID-19 pandemic and Lebanon’s economic crisis.

“We do not have a source of stable income,” said Raneem. “Ayman occasionally works in temporary jobs. If he works, we can spend, otherwise, we cannot most of the time.” Raneem and Ayman’s families have been supporting them with the costs for their baby’s essential needs, like nappies and food, but Raneem hopes that Ayman can find a job with a steady income soon.

Nurse Lamis visited Raneem regularly to check up on her health during her pregnancy. “If it was not for Lamis’ home visits and attention, I would have not realised that my blood pressure was very high [during pregnancy],” said Raneem. “I thought that what I was experiencing was normal. But Lamis kept on monitoring my blood pressure and referred me to an UNRWA [UN agency for Palestinian refugees] clinic for care.”

“The home visits help reduce the stress and pressure that pregnant women and new mothers in the camp feel, especially if they are not able to get the care they need,” Raneem added. “When MAP’s midwives and nurses visit us, we feel that someone cares about us and our health and wellbeing.”

With inflation rampant in Lebanon, the cost of essential medicines has skyrocketed. So as well as monitoring Raneem’s and her child’s health, Lamis has provided Raneem with vitamins which have become too expensive for her to buy.

Raneem could not speak highly enough of MAP’s midwives and nurses: “I always encourage other pregnant women and new mothers to register with MAP’s project. The midwives and nurses are well-known and loved by mothers in the camp. The team have a very good reputation in my community for providing very good quality care.”

“Mothers in the camp have WhatsApp groups to support each another. Through these groups we inform each other about helpful resources and services such as MAP’s maternal and child health services,” she said. “I wish that this important work continues as it provides a lot of benefits to pregnant women and mothers.”

Please consider donating to MAP’s work supporting Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.


*Name changed to protect the identity of people involved.

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