UNFPA: Clean Birthing Kits in Emergency Situations

 
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Khloloud Mohammad and baby girl, Rania
Khloloud Mohammad and baby girl, Rania

Civil war in Syria has driven over 2,000,000 people from their homes. More than a quarter have gone to neighboring Jordan where UNCHR – the United Nations Refugee Agency – has set up camps to host these refugees and provide them with basic services. Women and children who are especially vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse during crises make up over 78% of the camps and 1 in 5 women are pregnant.

During times of conflict, essential health care services are often interrupted, leaving pregnant women especially at risk. These women no longer have access to reproductive health services, and often are forced to give birth in unsanitary settings without assistance by a trained midwife or doctor.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, works hard to ensure that every child is delivered safely by providing reproductive health services and supplies to refugees in need. For just $11, UNFPA can provide three pregnant women with a clean delivery birthing kit. This kit, which includes a bar of soap, clear plastic sheet, umbilical cord tie, blanket, and latex, can mean the difference between life and death for a mother and her newborn child. 

Khloloud Mohammad, her husband and seven children braved shellings and snipers as they made the trek on foot to cross into Jordan. Seven months pregnant, Khloloud left Syria with her family to escape the violence. “All I want is to have a safe place for my children,” she said.  Once in Jordan, the family was transferred to Cyber City, a rapidly expanding refugee center with a UNFPA supported mobile clinic. With the help of a quick acting midwife, Khloloud was able to deliver a healthy baby girl, Rania. When Kholoud went into labor there was not time to transfer her to a hospital so the midwife, “had no other option but to help her give birth at the clinic.”

Sitting on a chair at the clinic, Khloloud was holding and breastfeeding her baby girl, Rania, with care and help from the midwife. “While I was running [from] the shelling in Syria, I was praying to God I would survive with my children and baby-to-come,” said Khloloud, “and here I am holding my baby and hope one day we will go back to our country and live in peace.”

Pregnancies do not stop during emergencies and UNFPA provides expecting mothers with crucial care during times of crisis like the civil war in Syria.  As the conflict escalates, this care is more important than ever to over a million women fleeing the violence.

For $25, UNFPA can supply a woman with hygiene essentials for six months, helping her maintain her dignity in a displaced situation. Please consider making a contribution today. Only with your vital support can we continue to care for mothers and their children in their time of need.  

Khloloud and midwife in UNFPA funded mobile clinic
Khloloud and midwife in UNFPA funded mobile clinic
Um with her husband, children, and healthy baby
Um with her husband, children, and healthy baby

According to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are 159, 017 registered Syrian refugees in Iraq. Specifically, at the Domiz Refugee Camp in Duhok, Iraq, there are 101,625 registered refugees.  Within the camp there are various UN and partner organizations at work to provide relief to refugees through shelter, food security, education, and health services. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund is among these organizations and is hard at work providing reproductive health services and supplies, such as clean birthing kits to help refugees in need.

When people are displaced for various reasons their access to health care services becomes greatly reduced. They are put at a greater risk for trauma, malnutrition, disease, and violence. Pregnant women are especially at risk in these situations, as they often do not have access to prenatal care, delivery care, emergency medical services, and post-partum care.

For just an $11 donation, UNFPA can produce 3 emergency clean birthing kits that can provide critical help in ensuring the safe delivery and health of three mothers and their babies.

Um Mohammed, a Syrian refugee, gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy in a time of crisis with the help of fast acting healthcare workers and UNFPA’s clean birthing kit. After she had been having contractions for two hours, Um arrived at the reproductive health clinic in the Domiz Camp in Iraq. She was checked by a midwife and it was confirmed that she was already in the second stage of labor. At that point, the clinic workers were scrambling to get her an ambulance to the hospital, however there was simply not enough time, so the doctor and midwife quickly transformed the clinic room into a delivery room. They were able to safely deliver Um’s baby using the clean birthing kit provided by UNFPA. Um is now doing better and is working to help promote the services of the clinic so that more pregnant women in the camp can find the care that they so desperately need.

In this emergency situation, the clean birthing kit was crucial in ensuring that Um had a clean delivery and that her baby was born healthy and safely. The kit consists of a bar of soap, clear plastic sheet, razor blade, umbilical cord tie, as well as cloth and latex gloves. Although it may seem simple, the kit provides lifesaving supplies to doctors and midwives in even the most remote and troubled regions where access to reproductive healthcare can be extremely scarce.

The services and resources that UNFPA provides in these areas, including the clean birthing kits, can make a life or death difference for many women and their babies. With the support of friends like you, UNFPA can help more women have safe births in these regions. For only $25, UNFPA can supply a woman with hygiene essentials for six months, helping her to maintain her dignity in a displaced situation. Please consider making a contribution today. With your help, we can make sure all women are afforded the right to a safe and sanitary delivery, even in times of crisis.

UNFPA delivers hygiene kits to Syrian refugees
UNFPA delivers hygiene kits to Syrian refugees

More than 50,000 Syrian refugees recently arrived at temporary shelters in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt in the last three months, resulting in an enormous and unprecedented strain on essential services. Women and children comprise over 80% of the refugee population, making them the most vulnerable in times of crises. Pregnant women are especially at risk, oftentimes stranded in refugee camps without immediate access to reproductive care.

A small donation of $11 or more can ensure women in these areas have clean, healthy and safe deliveries. On Wednesday, March 13th, you can double your impact! Global Giving is matching donations, with $50,000 available in matching funds – please donate today to help pregnant refugees in need.

Hear a firsthand account from a pregnant Syrian refugee on giving birth to a child in a time of crisis. Samira was seven months pregnant when she and her family fled their home in Syria. The 28-year old mother was not expecting to deliver her fifth baby in a refugee camp in Jordan.

Her labor came suddenly. "There was no time to go to the hospital, and I found myself delivering the baby in our tent," she said. "I was confused and afraid. It was late and there was no time to go to the hospital," the mother explained.

Samira was eventually transported to the Mafraq hospital where doctors told her that while her baby boy, Omar, was healthy, she needed extra care and should stay at the post-partum unit in the camp clinic.

The clinic, which is run by the Jordanian Health Aid Society with support from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has provided a range of healthcare services, including pre- and postnatal care, family planning and reproductive health education for many of the women residing in the camp. Samira is one of the few fortunate women who have access to health services provided by UNFPA and its local partners.

The influx of refugees has put a strain on existing national health services in Jordan. Increased support from the international community will be necessary for the United Nations and its partners to scale up their response. The provision of UNFPA's clean birthing kit can go a long way to save the life of a pregnant woman and her baby. By providing at least the most basic essentials (a bar of soap, clear plastic sheet, razor blade, an umbilical cord tie, cloth and latex gloves), the kit helps pregnant women who are unable to get to a health facility in a crisis or emergency situation.

While UNFPA does its best to provide reproductive care to women in vulnerable situations, it needs the support of donors like you to keep pace with the precarious humanitarian crisis faced by the Syrian people.  A $25 donation would provide hygiene essentials for six months, restoring dignity in a time of immense hardship. Please consider making an contribution today. Global Giving will match donations up to $50,000 on March13th , increasing the impact of your action! With your help, we can make sure all women are afforded the right to a safe and sanitary delivery, even in times of extreme crisis. 

Samira and her baby find care in a time of crisis
Samira and her baby find care in a time of crisis
Nisreen and her baby boy Mohammed
Nisreen and her baby boy Mohammed

As the conflict in Syria escalates, families continue to be displaced by the thousands. There are currently over 400,000 people registered as refugees in neighboring countries, like Lebanon and Jordan. Most of these are women and children who have fled their homes to escape the violence. Some cities in Syria, like Aleppo and Homs, are completely devastated. Neighboring countries are also feeling the strain, with the influx of refugees exhausting the existing national health services.  

In the face of this crisis, pregnant women are at high risk. Women fleeing conflict may have to give birth on the run or in unsanitary settings – where can they find a qualified midwife or doctor to safely deliver their children in areas of mass devastation and violence?  Women in these battle-ravaged regions need support and care now more than ever. Please donate $11 or more to help ensure women in crisis areas have clean, healthy and safe deliveries.

Nisreen (pictured above) is a 30 year-old Syrian refugee who fled to Cyber City, Jordan, while pregnant. Leaving behind the violence and her home, Nisreen was greeted with a new world of uncertainty and a fear for her life and the life of her baby. She never dreamed she would have to give birth in a foreign land during a time of great conflict, little resources and much confusion.

Nisreen desperately needed to find health care to increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy. Skilled midwives are essential in regions like this – they ensure that women and their babies receive skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the important days and weeks following the birth. Unfortunately, turmoil makes it hard to find such caregivers. Thankfully, Nisreen found UNFPA’s midwife, Um Ahmad Ayyad, whom Nisreen describes as a “saving angle”. On October 1st, Um Ahmad assisted Nisreen in the birth of her son, Mohammed. Nisreen faced unimaginable hardships while pregnant with her child, but with the help of UNFPA, the United Nation’s Population Fund, Nisreen received the care she needed to give birth to a healthy baby, despite the difficult circumstances surrounding her.

UNFPA is assisting in the provision of lifesaving reproductive health care services and psychosocial support in these cities. By setting up camps at border areas with Syria, training partners and medical staff, and providing medical assistance (including clean birthing kits), UNFPA is ensuring that the specific needs of women and girls are factored into humanitarian response to the region.

While UNFPA works to reach every woman in need, the Fund cannot do it alone – your help is essential. There are still refugees who are forced to give birth in unsanitary and dangerous conditions without the support of lifesaving care. Providing a clean delivery kit can increase their chances of survival and decrease maternal deaths. Through UNFPA and nongovernmental groups in the region, these emergency birthing kits are distributed to mothers, midwives and nurses. The kits consist of not only a bar of soap but also a clear plastic sheet, a razor blade to cut the umbilical cord and performing episiotomies, an umbilical cord tie, cloth and latex gloves. 

Please consider making an additional contribution– $25 provides a woman with hygiene essentials for six months, enabling her to maintain her dignity in disaster or emergency situations. Your gift will go a long way in ensuring that women who give life, do not have to risk their own.

Furaha
Furaha's little baby boy, delivered safely on 9/20

RWAMWANJA REFUGEE CAMP, Uganda -- For far too long, fighting between the government and rebels in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been an unfortunate way of life for the innocent people who live there. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund’s country office in Uganda has responded quickly to this crisis by working with partners on the ground to provide appropriate health care and support to survivors of sexual violence and pregnant women fleeing the crisis.

Women and children account for around 80 percent of internally displaced persons and refugees worldwide. Moreover, in disaster settings, about 1 in 5 women are pregnant, and mothers and babies are generally exposed to trauma, malnutrition, disease and violence.

Global Giving is matching donations on Wednesday, October 17th, with $50,000 available in matching funds – please donate $11 or more to help ensure women in crisis areas have clean, healthy and safe deliveries. Here are the stories of two pregnant Congolese refugees who recently ended up at this Ugandan camp and delivered their babies safely with help from the UNFPA and its partners.

Twenty-one-year-old Tumayine Alphonsine gave birth to her first baby, a girl, on Sept. 20, 2012. While she lived in Congo, Tumayine worked as an assistant pharmacist, while her husband, Gabriel, was a medical doctor. He stood by his wife throughout the childbirth ordeal, until she delivered safely after having C-section.

But it wasn’t a procedure that took place near their home or even in their country. Because of the ongoing conflict, Tumayine and her husband lost all their property and had to travel to this refugee camp in Uganda for safety. Her pregnancy was soon complicated by severe bleeding, and she was rushed to the Rwamwanja Health Center at the camp. The center took her by ambulance to a referral hospital in the Kabarole district, about 50 miles, away. That was where Tumayine gave birth to her little girl, weighing about six pounds.

Dr. Samuel Onyait, who assisted the delivery, said that because of the delay in getting Tumayine to the hospital, the umbilical cord had gotten entangled around the baby, so he had no other choice but to do a C-section.  

On the same day, Furaha Jannete, a 30-year-old Congolese mother of six, gave birth to a healthy boy, who also weighed about six pounds, on her way to the Rwamwanja camp. Her story was as harrowing as Tumayine’s, but her husband was not by her side. While heading to Uganda with their five children, two children disappeared, so her husband had to go back and look for them as Furaha, pregnant, proceeded with the other children. But before she reached the camp, she gave birth, suffering serious bleeding. She is now recovering at the UNFPA supported Rwamwanja health center, receiving treatment. She was also informed by the International Red Cross that her children had been found by her husband and that they would soon arrive.

These two Congolese women who delivered their babies in difficult circumstances received the care they needed, thanks to UNFPA. But basic supplies are not always available at health facilities in Congolese refugee camps. Pregnant women must often buy their own materials for their deliveries, but most cannot afford to do so.  Providing a clean delivery kit can increase their chances of survival and decrease maternal deaths. Please contribute your $11 or more towards safe deliveries today, Global Giving will match up to $50,000 in donations made on Wednesday, October 17th – increasing the impact of your gift!  

Through UNFPA and nongovernmental groups in the region, these emergency birthing kits are distributed to mothers, midwives and nurses at the camps. The kits consist of not only a bar of soap but also a clear plastic sheet, a razor blade to cut the umbilical cord and performing episiotomies, an umbilical cord tie, cloth and latex gloves.  

Thanks to your donation to UNFPA through Global Giving, health facilities in the Rwamwanja refugee camp and other sites can make safe births possible for Congolese women. For a mere $11, your donation will enable three delivery kits to be sent to the places where they are desperately needed.

Please consider making an additional contribution today as well – $25 provides a woman with hygiene essentials for six months, enabling her to maintain her dignity in disaster or emergency situations. Your gift will go a long way in ensuring that women who give life, do not have to risk their own.

Furaha Jannette rests after delivering safely
Furaha Jannette rests after delivering safely
Tumayine
Tumayine's precious baby girl born on 9/20
Tumayine
Tumayine's new family -- healthy and safe.

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Project Leader

Olivia Ryan

NY, NY United States

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Map of UNFPA: Clean Birthing Kits in Emergency Situations