As the Syrian civil war stumbles through its fifth year, 7.6 million people have been forced from their homes. Polluted water, poor sanitation and reduced access to health care have made much of the country a breeding ground for infectious diseases. Displaced from their homes without clean water, health care or work to sustain them, many Syrians also face extreme malnutrition.
To reduce the burden of sickness and hunger, Relief International is working with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to provide medical supplies, reproductive health services and clean water at five health care facilities in Aleppo, Deir Az Zour, Idleb and Hama.
In these regions, pregnant women often are forced to rely on high-priced midwifery services in neighboring towns. The program creates safe and secure places to deliver locally. Additional training for health care workers gives women carrying high-risk pregnancies access to early screening for preeclampsia, hypertension, anemia and sexually transmitted infections. Midwives are trained to raise awareness about the importance of post-partum consultations.
Relief International also works to detect and treat diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, which can be aggravated in an unstable environment. Health care facilities focus on these primary health care needs, rather than on trauma cases, to support the population’s long-term health.
Part of addressing communicable diseases, especially diarrheal diseases, includes providing clean water and hygiene education. Clean water is trucked in to some locations and water treatment plants are repaired. Lessons on hand-washing and clean food practices help reduce the impact of water-borne diseases.
This program also includes a community health worker (CHW) training program. CHWs allow for a more integrated approach to early recognition of disease and hygiene awareness. Whether it is helping a pregnant woman recognize the signs of preeclampsia or encouraging better hand-washing practices, CHWs help improve the quality of care.