The outstanding work of MAP’s community midwives

The health of women and children is a major cause for concern for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

Determined to help support the latest generation of Palestinians being born into exile, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) provides an essential community midwifery and perinatal outreach service. It is the only home-visiting midwifery service in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Working in Nahr el Bared, Beddawi, Mieh Mieh, and Ein el Helweh refugee camps and surrounding gatherings, the community midwives complement the clinic-based services provided by UNRWA.

For the past ten years, MAP’s midwives have helped to enhance the care offered to pregnant women and their new-born babies. They visit mothers who are most in need, including those not registered with UNRWA; with a mental illness or disability; young or pregnant for the first time; double-displaced from the war in Syria; and suffering domestic violence.

During their visits, the midwives measure weight, blood pressure and urine for protein, and listen to the babies’ heart rate with the mother. They also offer advice about serious signs and symptoms to look out for during pregnancy as well on diet, sleep and physical activity.

Once the baby arrives, a mother is visited, on average, once a month for up to a year. The health of the baby and the mother are carefully monitored, and the midwife also provides contraception, breast feeding and well-being advice.

MAP’s community midwives have had remarkable success in extremely challenging circumstances. This summer, the American University of Beirut (AUB) assessed the impact and added benefit of MAP’s maternal and child health programme to the existing UNRWA services and found “MAP has significantly contributed towards a positive shift in its impact on maternal and neonatal health outcomes.”

The community midwives have helped to increase breast-feeding rates, significantly reduce anaemia among pregnant women and new-borns, reduce high-risk pregnancies and the rates of caesarean section deliveries among Palestinian refugees.

The midwives are highly trusted amongst the women they support. One woman remarked, “I felt very comfortable with her, I would remember and tell her everything, everything; I would feel as if I was talking to a friend, I would open my heart wide”.

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