I was told my baby girl was starving because I could only breastfeed from one side. I needed help to buy her milk because her illness is due to hunger and I don’t have the means.
Fatima comes from Homs, Syria and has been living in Lebanon for the past six years with her four children and husband. “My first born had a disease that caused brain inflammation. I took him to different hospitals but they would refuse his admission, there was no help.” Fatima could not afford the expensive medical bills and her son passed away.
When one of her daughters presented similar symptoms, Fatima, who at the time was not yet registered with UNHCR, did her best to save her child’s life. “I took her to Qobayat hospital where they told me my daughter’s stomach was always empty. They asked me why and I explained I could only breastfeed from one side as the other was dry.” The doctors asked Fatima to buy powdered milk to make up for the missing milk but she did not have the means to do so. “Milk is so expensive,” she says. “My husband cannot work because his permit is expired, thus he doesn’t dare to go out.”
Fatima is one of the thousands of Syrian refugees in need of medical support. In Lebanon, UNHCR, with the financial help of the EU Trust Fund, supports primary and secondary healthcare services, including mental health services, mainly for Syrians and other vulnerable communities. By creating partnerships with local institutions and the Ministry of Public Health, UNHCR is at the moment able to cover at least 75% and a maximum of 90% of the medical fees incurred by refugees. Life threatening cases and delivery and maternity services are amongst the ones covered by UNHCR.