How MAP is promoting safe pregnancies for Palestinian refugees

The health of women and children is a major cause for concern for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The country’s refugee camps and Palestinian gatherings are beset by overcrowding, poverty, and a chronic lack of opportunities. Amid this context, rates of maternal and child mortality and morbidity remain high.

Determined to help improve the health and wellbeing of Palestinian women, MAP supports a comprehensive Reproductive Health programme run by local partner Naba’a. Their reproductive health clinics in Ein el Helweh and Rashidyeh camps integrate health promotion and advice with clinical services. At the female-run clinics, Palestinian women can access numerous services, including gynaecological consultations, routine cancer screening, and health education activities.

As well as the problems of marginalisation and poor services common to life in all 12 Palestinian camps across Lebanon, women living in Ein el Helweh camp also endure frequent armed violence between armed groups in the camp, sometimes displacing them and their families from their homes.

This winter, Wafa Dakwar, Medical Aid for Palestinians' (MAP’s) Senior Programme Officer in Lebanon, met one of the reproductive health clinic’s users, Sanaa, to discuss the challenges her family face and the services she receives.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

“Hi, my Name is Sanaa* and I am 22 years old. I have one daughter.”

Where do you live, Sanaa?

“I live with my husband and daughter in Al-Tiri neighborhood in Ein el Helweh refugee camp. Our house has three rooms. It was almost completely destroyed in the last armed conflict, but it was reconstructed recently. It is in a good condition now.”

What is the availability of electricity, running water and access to healthy food like?

“We have electricity and water. The availability and variety of food is dependent on my husband’s work. My husband is a daily worker and does not have a fixed job. On days where he works, we can afford good quantity and quality of food. On days where he doesn’t find work, we struggle.”

What made you decide to come to the Reproductive Health clinic?

“It is easy to reach and access the clinic. The team are very welcoming, and I feel very comfortable with the doctor. My friend, who used to benefit from Reproductive Health clinic services, informed me about the project.”

What is your experience of the clinic?

“I was followed up by the clinic’s doctor during my pregnancy. I also received ultrasounds with the support of the project. I am very happy with the services that I have received. The consultations with the project’s gynecologist helped me a lot during my pregnancy. I didn’t feel worried because the doctor used to tell me in detail how my pregnancy is going and how the baby is doing.”

What do you think your life would be like now if you had not had access to this service?

“My pregnancy would have not been the same. I would have not been able to take good care of myself and my baby without the project and the doctor’s help.”

Would you change anything about the project?

“I would expand the project services to also cover tests that are not available or covered by UNRWA and assist with obtaining referrals to hospitals.”

Would you recommend this service to other people you know?

“Yes, for sure!”

What are your hopes for the future?

“I hope the security situation improves and to live safely.”

To support this work and our other programmes for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, please consider donating today.

Donate

To learn more about challenges to health and dignity for Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, read our report ‘Health in Exile’.

*Name changed to protect identity