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Lebanon: 'Her name is Ghazal'
"I still remember the first child born at our centre,” says Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) midwife Wesal. “Her name was Ghazal.
"The team was very excited about opening the new mother and child care centre. When Ghazal was born, we rejoiced; each one of us felt that the baby was her daughter.”
Our teams at the mother and child care centre in Majdal Anjar, Lebanon work hard to ensure healthy pregnancy and safe delivery for Syrian refugees.
Ghazal’s mother is Hansa, a 16-year-old Syrian from Idlib. She remembers the delivery well: "We arrived at the centre at around four am," she says. "The medical team welcomed us warmly.
"I remember that the weather was cold, so they turned on the heat and started preparing me for labour.
"They were like family to me. I didn't feel like a stranger despite the fact that my family were still in Syria."
One of the poorest regions in Lebanon
Majdal Anjar is considered one of the poorest regions in Lebanon. It has hosted more than 80,000 Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.
We opened the new mother and child care centre in February 2016. This is to provide free reproductive health services and deliveries to more than 16,000 women in the Bekaa area, specifically in the village of Majdal Anjar and its surroundings.
The facility is the third centre that we operate in Lebanon – with two others in Arsal in the Bekaa and Shatila in Beirut.
"What touches me most is seeing the women who are in dire need of assistance, come to the centre to give birth and then leave satisfied and happy with our services.”
These centres offer normal deliveries free of charge, as well as prenatal, antenatal and postnatal care, in an effort to reduce maternal mortality.
There is also reproductive health and family planning service available from a specialised medical team, committed to ensuring healthy pregnancy and safe delivery for all women.
Each month, our teams receive around 100 natural births at the centre. In the event of a caesarean delivery or other complications, we are able to stabilise the patient's condition before moving her to one of the referral hospitals in the region.
“Referrals are not only done in the case of emergency," says the centre’s supervisor, Mariam El Masri. "But also when a mother or child has problems that might prevent a normal delivery in our clinic.
"These health problems are detected during their routine visits to our clinic, starting from the fourth month of pregnancy."
Helping vulnerable mothers who need it most
Hamida, a Syrian refugee who recently gave birth at our mother and child care centre, says that these repeated visits during pregnancy were very important in her case.
Throughout her prenatal stages, Hamida's midwife worked with a female gynecologist to make sure that both mother and foetus were in good condition. This meant she would be able to deliver her son, Khaled, naturally at the centre.
"What touches me most is seeing the women who are in dire need of assistance, come to the centre to give birth and then leave satisfied and happy with our services,” says Wesal.
Our mother and child care centre in Majdal Anjar is open day and night, seven days a week, to receive patients who are Syrian refugees and from other vulnerable groups.