Editor’s note: This article was originally published by Anera on May 5, 2022.
Giving birth is no easy task wherever you may live. But today, in Lebanon, pregnancy and birthing have become even more challenging. The cost of healthcare for women, especially during pregnancy and after childbirth, is almost insurmountable in Lebanon’s deteriorating economy. The price of healthy food and medicine has skyrocketed. Health services also are negatively impacted by the crisis. Anera’s Lebanon office continually receives appeals and alerts from partner institutions, healthcare centers and hospitals regarding shortages in OB-GYN equipment, supplies and treatments.
Once again, Anera and its partner, Direct Relief, have stepped up to the challenge. Direct Relief has sent a much-needed shipment of midwife kits to Lebanon, which Anera is distributing. The kits contain everything to help safely deliver babies in almost any environment. Each kit contains the 59 essential items a midwife needs to perform 50 facility-based safe births. They also contain essential instruments, diagnostic equipment, and supplies like gloves and other consumables needed by midwives to support safe birth.
Maryam Abdallah Khalil is a midwife at the Mother and Child Care Association Hospital. She sees her role as a midwife as two-fold: first, to raise awareness about reproductive health and childbirth and second, to assist mothers throughout the birthing process. “Direct Relief’s midwife kits provided our hospital with the kinds of supplies that no maternity ward should run out of. And, because we don’t have to purchase them, we can pass along the savings to new parents,” she said.
Maryam explained that a percentage of women living in remote areas rely on home birth, sometimes because of their tradition and sometimes because they cannot afford to go to a hospital. So a midwife plays a key role. “These cases are definitely on the increase because of the terrible financial situation in Lebanon. Providing safe and affordable care for pregnant women is essential.” Midwives, Maryam said, are integral to ensuring safe childbirth. And, that is where Direct Relief and Anera play a critical role.
“The 2021 State of the World’s Midwifery Report indicates that midwives can provide up to 90% of essential maternal and reproductive health interventions, including in emergency situations,” said Paulina Ospina, Associate Director of Maternal & Child Health Programs at Direct Relief. “For this reason, we are committed to supporting midwives with the supplies and equipment they need.”
Direct Relief partnered with Anera in Lebanon to provide enough midwife kits to facilitate 1,250 safe births this year alone. Anera’s medical donations team delivered the kits to health care providers across Lebanon, including five Palestine Red Crescent (PRCS) hospitals, the Mother and Child Welfare Associations and its maternity clinic and the Lebanese Association for Early Child Development. Midwives work out of these facilities, and they use the kits, along with doctors and nurses.
The Child and Mother Welfare Association is a charity organization based in Beirut. Founded in 1944 by an all-female board, the association focuses on offering health, social, vocational and cultural services for families in need. Nada Rabeez directs the association’s hospital. She said the economic crisis has challenged how the hospital can provide quality care, especially during childbirth.
“We have gone back in time. We have an old school monitor for listening to the baby’s heartbeat that we use because births sometimes happen during electricity cuts and this device does not need electricity,” she said.
“In Lebanon over the past 20 to 30 years, home births have been limited to rare cases that occur in relatively remote villages,” Nada said. “But today, these cases are increasing due to the high cost of childbirth in hospitals. Supporting charitable hospitals like ours by providing medical supplies literally helps us save lives.”
With help from international organizations like Anera and Direct Relief, she said the hospital can better provide delivery services at minimal prices to encourage women to give birth in a healthy environment inside the hospital. “And, that can ensure the safety of both the mother and child.”
This post was originally published on Direct Relief.