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Matern Child Health J. 2017 Sep;21(9):1798-1807. doi: 10.1007/s10995-017-2315-y.

Maternal Health Care Utilization Among Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA.


Purpose The influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan and Lebanon over the last 5 years presents an immense burden to national health systems. This study was undertaken to assess utilization of maternal health services among Syrian refugees in both countries. Description A cross-sectional survey of Syrian refugees living in urban and rural (non-camp) settings was conducted using a two-stage cluster survey design with probability proportional to size sampling in 2014-2015. Eighty-six percent of surveyed households in Lebanon and 88% of surveyed households in Jordan included women with a live birth in the last year. Information from women in this sub-set of households was analyzed to understand antenatal and intrapartum health service utilization. Assessment A majority of respondents reported seeking antenatal care, 82% and 89% in Jordan and Lebanon, respectively. Women had an average of at least six antenatal care visits. Nearly all births (98% in Jordan and 94% in Lebanon) took place in a health facility. Cesarean rates were similar in both countries; approximately one-third of all births were cesarean deliveries. A substantial proportion of women incurred costs for intrapartum care; 33% of Syrian women in Jordan and 94% of Syrian women in Lebanon reported paying out of pocket for their deliveries. The proportion of women incurring costs for intrapartum care was higher in Jordan both countries for women with cesarean deliveries compared to those with vaginal deliveries; however, this difference was not statistically significant in either country (Jordan p-value = 0.203; Lebanon p-value = 0.099). Conclusion Syrian refugees living in Jordan and Lebanon had similar levels of utilization of maternal health services, despite different health systems and humanitarian assistance provisions. As expected, a substantial proportion of households incurred out-of-pocket costs for essential maternal and newborn health services, making cost a major factor in care-seeking decisions and locations. As health financing policies shift to account for the continued burden of refugee hosting on the health system, sustained attention to the availability and quality of essential maternal and newborn health services is needed to protect both refugee and host populations women's rights to health and health care during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.


Antenatal care; Cesarean; Humanitarian assistance; Intrapartum care; Jordan; Lebanon; Maternal health; Refugee; Syria

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