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MSF’s Maternity in Domiz Camp, Iraq, Continues to Grow

22 September 2014

Midwives fill out a partograph—a tool that allows them to chart the progress of a woman who is delivering—for the first baby born in the new maternity unit. Photo: Gabrielle Klein/MSF

Marguerite Sheriff, midwife, guides her staff for the first delivery. “I kept telling the midwives that one day they would be running the place and they could hardly believe me," says Sheriff. Photo: Gabrielle Klein/MSF

Baby Ayla, born August 4 at seven pounds, is the first baby MSF staff delivered in the new maternity camp in Domiz. Photo: Gabrielle Klein/MSF

There are an average of five births every day in the new maternity unit. "We are already studying the option of further expanding our operations,” says Dr. Adrian Guadarrama, MSF’s medical team leader in Domiz. Photo: Gabrielle Klein/MSF

A relative holds Ayla while the baby’s mother receives postpartum care. Photo: Gabrielle Klein/MSF

The MSF team congratulates Ayla’s mother. Photo: Gabrielle Klein/MSF

Sheriff poses with new mother and newborn, the first beneficiaries of the new Domiz maternity center. Photo: Gabrielle Klein/MSF

Just a few weeks after opening on August 4, MSF’s maternity unit in Domiz refugee camp, in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, is crowded with Syrian women, many of them pregnant or holding babies. All have chosen to take advantage of a range of maternity services, from antenatal check-ups to postnatal vaccinations, provided by staff who are themselves refugees.

As more refugees arrive from Syria—around 60,000 according to unofficial numbers—and as many get married and give birth, the need for a dedicated maternity unit is clear. An estimated one in five of the camp’s residents is a woman of reproductive age, and an estimated 2,100 babies are born in the camp each year.