Many displaced women are fleeing from conflict. War and upheaval can have a devastating effect on health infrastructure, meaning that women may lose access to health care even before they are displaced. Once on the move, health care can be out of reach due to lack of services, distance, transport barriers, lack of finances, or uncertainty about available services. Prevailing insecurity can also hinder access.
Any displaced population will include pregnant women like Raheema, but many women lack access to the medical care that she was able to receive. Pregnancy carries risks for all women, and even more so when they are displaced. These women are more vulnerable to miscarriage and pre-term delivery, but are less able to access antenatal care, a safe birthing environment, and emergency obstetric care. A lack of access to emergency obstetric care makes giving birth extremely dangerous for displaced women. For women anywhere, we know that 42 percent of all pregnancies will have a complication. For 15 percent, those complications are life-threatening.
Women on the move may also wish to delay pregnancy until their lives are more stable and secure, but they often do not have access to family planning services. They may have begun their journey with contraceptives, but have either lost or run out of them while on the move. This can lead to unwanted pregnancies, which increases the risk of unsafe abortions, which account for up to 13 percent of all maternal deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.