We support women and girls in war and crisis zones
29. September 2022 - News

The right to health: Care for women in crisis regions

The first door that women affected by violence knock on is often that of a healthcare institution. However, especially in war and crisis areas, these contact points are scarce and very rarely trained. With a multi-country programme, medica mondiale and three partner organisations are remedying this situation.

A woman and a man in a white lab coat are standing and talking to each other in a room in a hospital.

“We see people affected by domestic violence so often that it is almost treated as normal,”

explains one nurse from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Violence against women is a worldwide problem, but in war and post-war countries the rates are particularly high. The problem only got more severe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Compared with the great need, there is very little provision of assistance for those affected. The staff of healthcare clinics have generally not received appropriate training.

Trauma-sensitive support: Training for local specialists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina

This gap in provision is where our project starts. Our partner organisations train doctors, midwives and nursing staff locally. They learn how to offer beneficial support to women affected by violence. In a second step, these specialist staff then learn how to pass on the training to their colleagues. In this way, the knowledge about trauma-sensitive support can be anchored in their community for the long term.

Initially, this training programme was carried out in Afghanistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and now it has expanded to Iraq and Kosovo, Unfortunately, the project in Afghanistan had to be suspended because of the security situation.

A sustainable approach: Specialists pass on the expertise

The program is already having an effect. This has also been confirmed by an external evaluation: the specialist staff are passing on what they learnt during the training, anchoring this approach within their institutions.

“It was important for us to choose a long-term approach,”

says Sabiha Husić, Director of Medica Zenica, our Bosnian partner organisation.

“These trained specialists are continuing to pass the expertise on to others.”

In the past year, 394 healthcare professionals received training on the Stress- and Trauma-sensitive Approach.

Evaluation: Women affected by violence feel strengthened

The evaluators were also able to measure the satisfaction amongst the target group of women affected by violence.

“The doctor and the nurses smiled at me and listened to me which I felt was very comforting. When the doctor saw the cuts and bruises on my shoulder and lips, she asked me if someone had done this to me, and I told her what had happened,”

said one affected woman from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“She encouraged me to report the incident, gave me addresses for safe houses, and the contact details of a psychotherapist. I think I will follow that up.”

Cross-border cooperation: Sharing specialist knowledge and experience, reaching common goals

The inter-country cooperation is an important aspect of the program. Our partner organisations define common goals and discuss the challenges and possible solutions with each other, which also includes international health policy.

The same training courses will now be offered to further healthcare facilities. Additionally, a greater focus will be placed on joint political work. At both national and international levels, we and our partner organisations are committed to anchoring a Stress- and Trauma-sensitive Approach within the healthcare provision for women affected by violence.