One of the most brutal aspects of the crisis has been the deliberate targeting of the medical infrastructure — the bombing of hospitals and killing of doctors. The disruption of Syria’s healthcare system has had disastrous impact on the most vulnerable members of the population — women and young children.
In response, MFA has been working with its healthcare partners on the ground in northern Syria to address the needs of Syrian women through our Women’s Relief Program.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP WOMEN
MFA, along with its partner organizations on the ground in Syria, addresses the gap in medical care for women through our Women’s Relief Program.
MFA supports women’s health and wellness through shipments of medicine, medical equipment, hygiene and dignity supplies, reproductive health items, and other supplies to underserved areas of northern Syria. These supplies support hospitals in Syria, as well as mobile clinics to serve women in hard-to-reach areas.
But we can't do this work without your support!
This simplest way you can stand with Syrian women and support MFA's work is by making a donation of any size. Your donation will help our efforts to...
• Advocate for fair and humane refugee policies
• Raise public awareness about the Syrian crisis, its
impact on medical care — and on women, in particular
• Expand MFA’s base of donors to increase the range
and volume of women’s specific products MFA can ship
• Increase MFA’s capacity so that we can continue to
send 40-foot containers of relief to those in need
THE SYRIAN CRISIS
IMPACT ON WOMEN AND GIRLS
Women and girls are often the most at-risk population in crisis settings. Women face an elevated risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and gender-specific medical conditions like pregnancy and childbirth, which can become especially deadly without adequate medical care.
Humanitarian assistance largely focuses on immediate needs of the general population. Women’s specific needs are either neglected or overlooked due to insufficient assistance or lack of targeted support. Many women in Syria live in overcrowded makeshift shelters with little access to healthcare, clean water, and sanitation such as washing facilities or latrines.
THE STORY OF SAMIRA
The following is a story on a woman named Samira who is twenty-eight:
My husband was killed during the fighting and I had to leave my village with my four children. I was five months pregnant and it took me two months to get to this shelter. Throughout my entire journey my children and I were bitterly cold and hungry. When I arrived I went into early labour [sic] in my seventh month. There was no hospital or medical staff nearby so the other women helped me. My baby was born so prematurely and there was no special care to help him survive. He lived just two hours.
Sadly, Samira’s story is not unique. Large numbers of women have been forcibly displaced repeatedly in search of safety. Even in cases where there are midwives to help in giving birth, doctors report a lack of the most basic equipment and medicines such as gynecological tables or vacuums for extractions. As Samira’s story shows, even where there are functioning hospitals, they may be so distant that hours of travel through hazardous conditions presents extreme risks to both newborns and mothers.
Menstruation can be a humiliating and dangerous time for women in camps, as they often lack access to safe, clean toilets and cleaning facilities. Underwear and sanitary items can be hard to come by, forcing women to use unhygienic materials, like old rags, moss, and pieces of mattress, which, coupled with lack of clean water and sanitation, poses a high risk of infection.
PRENATAL AND POSTNATAL CARE
Due to the specialized nature of women’s medical care, the lack of OB-GYNs and other specialized medical staff compounds the effects of Syria’s healthcare crisis on women.
Women face other major obstacles, like accessing prenatal and postnatal care, including lack of ambulances. In hard-to-reach areas, there are no reproductive services at all. For women who do have access to these services, visiting a medical center can be risky. As a result, many pregnant women in Syria are giving birth outside of medical facilities, either out of necessity or by choice, where the risk of infections, complications, and death are considerably higher.
In northern Syria alone, the lack of medical care for women has left approximately 45,000 pregnant women at risk of complications and death.
Despite the increased dangers of pregnancy, access to family planning options are severely lacking. Studies show that access to family planning has the potential to significantly reduce maternal mortality rates, and that without availability of family planning resources, maternal mortality rates increase.
In Syria, there is a considerable need for reproductive healthcare, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention and testing, and care for treatable issues like Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). Female victims of sexual violence face a greater risk of prolonged trauma without access to critical care and STI testing.