Warning over medical demands of Syria refugees in Jordan

WITHIN four months it will become “impossible” to meet the medical demands of the ballooning number of Syrian refugees in Jordan – unless the international community steps in, a charity leader has warned.

A Syrian refugee receives medical care from a doctor at a Caritas Jordan community centre in Amman. Picture: PA

Jordan is struggling to meet their needs in the wake of 1.3 million people fleeing the conflict in Syria, with as many as 70,000 refugees crossing into the country every month.

There has been a 624.4 per cent rise in the number of Syrian patients who have used the services offered by Caritas Jordan at seven facilities across the country in the first three quarters of this year, according to figures ­released by the charity – the partner of the British agency Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF).

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Wael Suleiman, executive director of Caritas Jordan, said: “The problem with Jordan is that resources are so limited.

“In the public sector there are around only 40 hospitals for at least three million Jordanian people and today we are talking about 500,000 Iraqi refugees, 900,000 Egyptians and 1.3 million Syrians and with limited medical services.

“I think we are talking about a big problem for Jordan.

“The problem is not about today, we are talking about 60,000 to 70,000 Syrians every month coming to Jordan.

“I believe that even if today we can manage the situation, in the next three to four months it will be impossible to cover these medical services to the Syrian people. A solution should be there, I don’t know what, but some solution may be next month in Geneva,” he said in reference to international peace talks due to take place.

Caritas Jordan and SCIAF are members of the global confederation of 165 Catholic organisations Caritas Internationalis, making up one of the world’s largest humanitarian aid networks.

Val Morgan, an aid worker for SCIAF said: “There is a critical demand for high-quality medical care for refugees and other vulnerable people affected by the war in Syria.

“If there is not a concerted effort to provide for their health needs now, the long-term impact to these people and the healthcare service will be catastrophic. This predicament will go from desperate to disastrous unless urgent action is taken.”

One of the country’s busiest hospitals is the not-for-profit Italian Hospital in Amman, which works with Caritas ­Jordan.

Dr Khalid Shammas, medical director of the hospital, has described current pressures on medical services as “only the start” and has said that the medical system in Jordan will be dealing with the consequences of the Syrian conflict for the next 20 years.

The hospital’s outpatient unit will see 250 to 300 Syrian refugees per day which is “too much”, Dr Shammas said.

He also explained that patients who are Syrian refugees present challenging cases both from a physical and psychological perspective with wounds caused by shrapnel from bombs commonplace.

“A great number of these refugees have medical conditions, some of them related to the war, some of them related to chronic diseases. It is challenging because we are not used to dealing with that amount of people seeking medical attention.”

When Hani Najlat, 60, and his wife Nasema Alsadakh, 44, fled from their home in Damascus in February they chose Jordan as their destination, determined to find the best healthcare for their injured son.

Nasir, 18, had been shot in the face when he was leaving the mosque and a small bullet hit his eye. He is now blind in his left eye.