Even though five months have passed since the Syrian regime took over the northern countryside of Homs, the area’s people did not witness any essential changes in the service reality, at all levels, amidst promises of reactivating all the service-related establishments.
The water and electricity have both shyly revived; however, the area is enduring a “catastrophe” when it comes to the healthcare sector, considered the most important of all needed services.
Displacement of Doctors
Many pressures were imposed on the area by the Assad’s forces, backed by Russia, which led to conducting a reconciliation deal in the northern countryside of Homs, through which the regime controlled the area after many years of its retreat from it in the interest of the opposition factions.
The northern rural Homs’ reconciliation deal in last May provided for enhancing security and stability in the cities and towns of the area, in addition to turning the “al-Tawhid Brigade” (Oneness of God), which entered the reconciliation deal with the regime and Russia, into local police, which sole task is preserving the area’s safety and supervising the international highway.
The deal, conducted in May 2018, led to the displacement of a massive number of people in the northern countryside of Homs, on top of whom were doctors and nurses who worked at field hospitals in particular.
One of the doctors who preferred displacement over staying, on the condition of anonymity, told Enab Baladi: “I choose displacement over staying under the authority of the security branches, for the field hospital’s staffs are terrorists in the eyes of the regime, which alleges that we were offering medical help to those it calls “terrorists” of the “al-Nusra Front.” We were performing our humanitarian duty and offering medical help with the least resources, regardless of the patients’ political and factional affiliation, as we are owners of a message not politics.”
“The sponsoring entities offer us salaries in return for the free healthcare services provided to Syrian people who are suffering due to the shelling; it is the utmost form of giving. My medical duty necessitated that I exit the area to continue my work, for in the regime’s areas there are no shelling or confrontations,” he added.
Field Work Continues
Following the end of the displacement convoys and the entry of all the government’s establishments, under various sectors, the Ministry of Healthcare put it hand on the field hospitals and is currently offering them a simple logistic support to be able to offer first aid services and has also assigned a few doctors to do checkups.
Hussam, a nurse from the city of Talbiseh in the northern countryside of Homs, who refused the displacement, told Enab Baladi: “The field hospital originally was a dispensary under the Ministry of Healthcare; it was developed and turned by the organizations into an adequate hospital, well-equipped to receive urgent cases. When the Ministry of Healthcare entered the area, it closed all the departments created by the organizations, and the dispensary returned to its former function, offering simple services which do not meet the area’s needs.”
In the shadow of the lacking doctors and nurses, the area’s residents are forced to go to the private hospitals at the governorate’s center.
One of the Farhaniyah village’s residents, refused to reveal his name, told Enab Baladi: “Following the regime’s forces’ entrance, we hoped for an adequate return of services, but the reality showed the opposite, for the healthcare status has massively deteriorated compared with the way it used to be. There is not a pediatric even, and we are forced to go to the city of Homs to get acceptable healthcare services.”
Services and Security are a Prerequisite for Doctors’ Return
Several doctors from the northern countryside of Homs left to the regime-controlled areas after the “Free Army” factions got hold of the area and despite the fact that the regime is now in control of it, doctors refuse to return due to the bad services offered and the lacking security in the area in general.
Enab Baladi interviewed a doctor from the al-Ghantu village while on a visit to the area; he said: “I am currently not thinking of returning to the area for services are almost absent, education is at its worst, electricity is irregular, and it is difficult to get water. […] Not to mention the security condition, if it does not really get better, I would not consider a return.”
“If I returned and reopened my clinic, I would not be able to cover the people’s needs, due to shortage of doctors, for the majority of the doctors who left do not think of returning, in addition to the deteriorating financial situation of most of the people, which triggered me to work for free,” he added.