Women's Relief Program

The deliberate targeting of Syria’s medical infrastructure — the bombing of hospitals and killing of doctors – has completely disrupted its healthcare system. The resulting impact has been disastrous for the most vulnerable members of the population — women and young children.

To address the gap in medical care, especially for women and young children who make up eighty percent of the refugee and IDP population, MFA has established two healthcare facilities in northern Syria.

With a new local presence and the ongoing support of our healthcare partners in the region, MFA’s Women’s Relief Program is more effective than ever in serving the medical needs of women, young girls, and children.

Helping Syrian Women

MFA created the Women’s Relief Program through which we distribute women-specific supplies to our new medical facilities, and to mobile clinics in northern Syria and northern Iraq. Last year, we provided breast cancer (chemotherapy) drugs, estrogen medication, personal safety whistles, menstrual supplies, and OBGYN equipment that included infant scales, an ultrasound machine, infant incubator, and maternity kits.

Additionally, 180,000 expectant Syrian mothers received complete pregnancy vitamins, made possible through our generous supply partner, Kirk Humanitarian. These supplements are high-quality, Halal-certified vitamins, which contain fifteen micronutrients that support the health of both mother and baby. help to prevent maternal anemia and improve pregnancy outcomes.

Individuals & Groups

One person can make a big difference!
Below are ways to get involved with MFA:

• Organize a Postcard Writing event
• Launch a crowdfunding campaign to Fund A Container of relief supplies
• Share handouts about the Syrian crisis and how it affects women
• Follow MFA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to spread MFA's work through your network

Reach out to MFA by email at: ionut.gitan@multifaithalliance.org

Religious & Community Leaders

MFA's backbone is religious organizations compelled by their faith to respond to the Syrian crisis.
Below are ways to help MFA:

• Fundraise through Fund A Container
• Invite MFA to speak about the Syrian crisis at your place of worship
• Organize a collection drive of relief supplies for MFA to send
• Make an introduction to your religiousorganization's larger charity

Reach out to MFA by email at: ionut.gitan@multifaithalliance.org

Business Leaders

MFA depends on business leaders and corporate donors to grow our impact.
Below are ways to work with MFA:

• Donate relief supplies
• Offer capacity grants
• Activate your workforce for a service project
• Make introductions to others in your network
• Incorporate the Syrian refugee crisis into your CSR plan

Reach out to MFA by email at: ionut.gitan@multifaithalliance.org
IMPACT ON WOMEN AND GIRLS
Women and girls are the most at-risk population in the Syrian crisis. 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 by necessity focuses on the immediate needs of the general population. Women’s specific needs are often neglected due to insufficient support and resources. 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.

(Panayotis Tzamaros / Shutterstock.com)

MENSTRUATION
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.

FAMILY PLANNING
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.