UNICEF provides health and nutrition to children and mothers in rural Hama

Essential services continue despite COVID-19 restrictions

Rasha Al-Sabbagh
16 September 2020

Hama, Syria, 31 August 2020- Access of children and families to essential health care, already hindered by years of conflict in Syria, has been further impacted by economic hardship and the recent spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), further compounding people’s needs.

In Suran, northern rural Hama, UNICEF has been reaching children and mothers with health and nutrition services despite COVID-19 challenges.

a health worker treats a womans hand
“For three years, caregivers with their children, not only from Suran but also neighbouring villages, have been frequenting the clinic. They trust that, here, their children will receive the level of care they deserve,” says Ahmad, 48, a health worker at the UNICEF-supported health clinic in Suran, while providing a woman with a medical check-up.
a health worker checking a baby girl
Rayan, 3 months, receiving a medical check-up following her vaccination at the UNICEF-supported clinic in Suran, north rural Hama. “Handwashing, hygiene, staying home and distancing when we need to get out are essential to keeping my little girl safe,” says Rayan’s mother, while visiting the clinic for the second time for Rayan’s vaccination.

“This is a critical time for health workers to take the lead. It’s the time for us to fulfil our mission to protect, treat and raise the awareness of people,” says Ahmad Khattab, 48, a health worker and one of the 10-member medical team at the UNICEF-supported clinic in Suran, established in 2018 following respite in violence in rural Hama.

To keep children and caregivers safe during the visits, clinic staff wear personal protective equipment, ensure all equipment and the premises are sanitized before and after the visits and encourage physical distancing between people while serving them.

a woman carrying a child at the entrance of a health centre
Ileen, 8 months, getting a check-up at the UNICEF-supported health clinic in Suran, northern rural Hama. “She’s my only grandchild, I want to make sure she stays healthy and protected from any virus,” says Hind, Ileen’s grandmother, who brought her to the clinic for a medical consultation.
a woman holding a baby as a health worker is writing down notes
“To protect ourselves against the coronavirus, we regularly clean the house, sanitize the things we bring from outside and only leave the house when necessary," she adds.

In 2020, thanks to a generous funding from Japan, UNICEF through its clinic in Suran, has reached 51,000 children under the age of 15 with immunization, consultations and medicines. It also reached 1,800 pregnant and lactating women with consultations and much needed medicines.

More than 1,700 children under five years and 400 pregnant and lactating women were screened for acute malnutrition and referred to treatment as needed. To support and raise their awareness, over 250 pregnant and lactating women were reached with guidance on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) best practices and 200 children and caregivers were provided with mine-risk education.

a family talking to a health worker
Seven-year-old Shamsah waiting to receive her check-up at the UNICEF-supported health clinic in Suran, northern rural Hama. “During COVID-19 lockdown, we bought Shamsah and Aya, her younger sister, books to homeschool and keep them busy,” says Reema, their mother.
A girl at a health centre
“Having access to health and nutrition services for my daughters is a relief. It means that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting my daughters quality healthcare especially that nowadays my salary barely gets us by,” says the father.