01 March, The Hague—It has been over three weeks since the pair of magnitude 7.6 and 7.7 earthquakes struck Syria and Türkiye, killing over 50,000 people and displacing millions. As a result of this disaster, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) in Türkiye and Syria is in crisis.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 38,000 of the 350,000 pregnant women who survived the earthquakes are due to give birth in the next month and are in urgent need of healthcare.
Pregnant women who have lost relatives, friends, and homes in the earthquakes are being forced to put their health at risk as they take refuge in camps, with limited access to food and clean water. Women are struggling to access sexual and reproductive healthcare as thousands of buildings, including hospitals, have been destroyed. New-born infants have been pulled from the debris, with no promise of reuniting with their mothers or family members.
Preparation for a disaster/emergency is difficult due to the unexpectedness and unpredictability of its severity. Saving lives and preventing and reducing suffering after an emergency is an enormous task, which requires preparation and competence. Responses to disasters/emergencies often start at community level, and it is only after the initial emergency phase that emergency agencies and other relevant groups are able to arrive on site. As midwives form a considerable proportion of the health workforce and often work closest to the affected community, their contribution to disaster/emergency risk reduction, preparedness and response is vital. However, midwives are often not included in emergency preparedness and response planning at local, national and international level.
ICM is continually helping national member associations in Türkiye to organise and obtain funding to provide essential reproductive health services in the coming weeks and months.
As the crisis in Türkiye and Syria continues, ICM encourages its Member Associations in other countries and those working to provide and uphold care for women and their families in the affected areas to:
- Assist in efforts to mobilise the necessary resources for midwifery care in disaster/emergency situations, giving special attention to vulnerable groups.
- Work with existing capacities, skills, resources, and organisational structures.
- Partner with independent, objective media, local and national branches of government, international agencies, and non-governmental organisations.
- Care for midwives and others who provide direct services.
- Encourage midwives to continue to provide ongoing care and support to women during childbirth and to lactating women
Resources for Midwives and Midwives’ Associations
- ICM Advocacy Toolkit for Midwives
- ICM International Code of Ethics for Midwives
- ICM Position Statement: Role of the Midwife in Disaster/Emergency Preparedness
- ICM Position Statement: Health of Women and Children in Disasters
- ICM Position Statement: Heritage and Culture in Childbearing
- ICM Position Statement: Midwives and Violence Against Women and Children
- ICM Position Statement: Midwives, Women and Human Rights
- ICM Position Statement: Migrant and Refugee Women and their Families
Stay in touch
We encourage our Member Associations and other midwives’ associations impacted by this disaster to share regular updates with ICM. We are pleased to provide support in terms of facilitating connections with global and regional stakeholders and amplifying on-the-ground perspectives and observations across ICM communications channels.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image © UNFPA Türkiye/Eren Korkmaz