The Association of Ontario Midwives

The Association of Ontario Midwives

Providing midwifery care to Syrian refugees

If my first day at the uninsured clinic is any indication, there are many more pregnant women than documented on their incoming health assessments and I suspect midwifery services in the short and long term will be highly necessary.

Midwives across the province have been working hard to welcome and provide care to Syrian refugees in their communities.

More than 10,000 refugees from Syria have arrived in Canada since December 2015. Toronto is currently receiving approximately 400 people a day, with 2,500 expected to arrive before the end of February. Government Assisted Refugees arriving in Toronto are being housed in hotels for two to six weeks until permanent housing is procured.

To meet the health needs of Syrian refugees in the GTA, a clinic was established in a hotel in the west end of the city through COSTI and Access Alliance. A similar clinic in the east end should be up and running shortly. The tentative plan is for all pregnant women to be seen primarily by midwives for assessment, diagnostic tests and ongoing care while they remain in their temporary hotel lodging. I am currently involved in organizing the midwifery services at these clinics, and the AOM will be sending out a sign-up sheet for midwife volunteers in the coming weeks.

Once housing is confirmed, clients will be referred to the appropriate care provider in the geographical area of their residence. While we do not know the final housing destination of these clients, we anticipate that many will be settled in Scarborough and Mississauga.

It is important for practices, particularly in the GTA, to consider how they will accommodate clients for ongoing care. Although the numbers of pregnant women and their estimated delivery dates are not yet known, the federal government does maintain a list of the number of refugees being settled in communities across Canada, which is an excellent place to begin your planning.
 
If my first day at the uninsured clinic is any indication, there are many more pregnant women than documented on their incoming health assessments and I suspect midwifery services in the short and long term will be highly necessary. My hope is that most low-risk women can be referred to midwives.

As you can appreciate, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will share information with you as it becomes available.

Midwives - please be sure to sign your clinic up for the Refugee Health Line at 1-866-286-4770 so refugees seeking pregnancy care can be connected with your clinic. Stay tuned for the call for health-care worker volunteers in the GTA, and be sure to email Talia Bronstein to join the AOM’s Syrian Refugee Listserv. Midwives are also welcome to contact me directly by email.

Manavi Handa, RM, Assistant Professor Ryerson University