More than 215,000 pregnant women have been affected by the 6 February earthquakes that hit southern Turkey and northern Syria, the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) reported on Monday.
The organisation said the twin earthquakes of magnitudes 7.8 and 7.6 also destroyed safe spaces in the area operated by the UNFPA.
It added that it has begun providing reproductive health services in Turkey, including the distribution of dignity kits.
Over 214,000 women in Turkey were caught up in the seismic disaster while pregnant. Almost 24,000 of them are expected to give birth within a month.
Reports show that many women in Turkey have problems accessing hygiene products, which can also cause serious health problems.
Meanwhile, lack of access to maternal health support, including emergency obstetric care and caesarean sections, can threaten many lives in areas affected by the disaster.
Özge Yılmaz, a gynaecologist from the Istanbul Medical Association, told Gazete Duvar on Sunday that only three field hospitals have been trying to provide health services in earthquake-hit Adıyaman province, adding that a family health clinic should be immediately set up for women, especially for pregnant women, who are at risk of haemorrhage or miscarriage.
Medical doctor Aslı Davas, from the Turkish Medical Association, noted that the Ministry of Health should inform earthquake survivors about facilities that provide maternity services.
Adding that women and children are the most vulnerable groups in the aftermath of major disaster, Davas said the authorities should also take into account that many women in the earthquake area are Kurdish or Arabic speakers.
“Sexual health, reproductive health services should begin immediately. Those are basic human rights, they cannot be postponed during disasters. We can list the priorities as establishing child delivery areas to prevent the death of mothers and babies, the transfer of those in need to other medical facilities, vaccination and nutrition,” she said.