A Syrian mother holds her newborn baby in Sidon, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (The Daily Star/James Heines-Young)
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While the rate of births by cesarean section in Lebanon remains considerably above internationally recommended levels, the incidence of the procedure among refugee women comes with additional risks and hardship.In Lebanon, while no exact data is available, the rate of cesareans is estimated to be around 50 percent – a staggering figure compared to the 15 percent considered normal by the World Health Organization. According to UNHCR's Senior Public Health Officer Michael Woodman, the issue is of major concern for the U.N. refugee agency, which allocates over 40 percent of its expenditure on Syrian refugees in Lebanon to maternity care.According to a 2015 UNHCR report, 75 percent of the 61,820 Syrian refugees UNHCR referred to hospitals were women, reflecting the high proportion of obstetric care cases.For each birth by C-section, UNHCR spends on average $350 more, Woodman said.The misconception that a C-section is a worry-free procedure also impacts the number of surgeries, with many women even requesting cesareans.As well as the increased health hazards, higher expenses associated with C-sections also burden the refugees themselves.
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