UNICEF: The number of maternal deaths triples in the context of the economic crisis in Lebanon

A new report released by UNICEF on Wednesday shows that in Lebanon, maternal deaths have tripled and children’s health is at risk amid a severe economic crisis.

By Vatican News reporter

As a severe economic crisis continues to grip Lebanon, vulnerable people are suffering.

Maternal deaths

According to a new report released Wednesday by UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, the number of women dying from pregnancy-related complications has almost tripled in three years.

The results also showed that around 40% of doctors, including those who work specifically with children and women, have left the country, along with around 30% of midwives due to the current economic climate.

This exodus, the UN agency pointed out, is diminishing the quality of services in a country once considered a regional health center.

Faysal al-Kak, coordinator of the Lebanese National Committee for Safe Motherhood, said the number of maternal deaths increased largely due to the delta variant of the coronavirus in 2021, but added that the economic crisis was also a factor.

Risks for children

Among the vulnerable people affected by this crisis are children, especially Syrian refugees who have fled the border to Lebanon.

In the report, UNICEF pointed out that a third of children will not have access to health care by October 2021, and that the number of children who die in the first four weeks after birth “has dramatically increased.” increased among refugees in four assessed provinces”.

Lebanon is estimated to host 1.5 million Syrian refugees, about a quarter of the population.

Economic turmoil

Amid the country’s economic woes, the Lebanese government agreed last week to disburse $15 million to temporarily address growing bread shortages in the country.

The move came after long queues began to form outside bakeries across the country and industry insiders warned the government had failed to extend a promised line of credit. for a long time for the subsidized product.

“Repeatedly, anguished parents and families are unable to access basic health care for their children – as many dedicated health workers struggle to keep operations going during the crisis,” said Ettie Higgins, Representative of UNICEF in Lebanon.

He goes on to say that the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the aggravated crisis, “could have indirectly affected accessibility, cost and transportation.”

In its findings, UNICEF noted that the rising cost of transport and services due to the collapse of the country’s currency and the removal of most subsidies on fuel and medicine left health care health out of reach for many.

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