The only public hospital in Quneitra extorts citizens for operations

Examination of a patient in the internal diseases department at the Mamdouh Abaza Hospital - March 13, 2020 (Hospital Facebook page)

Examination of a patient in the internal diseases department at the Mamdouh Abaza Hospital - March 13, 2020 (Hospital Facebook page)


Enab Baladi – Quneitra

The “Mamdouh Abaza” Hospital is the only public hospital operating in Quneitra, amid the limited number of doctors and the unavailability of health centers, as the Syrian regime forces shut down field hospitals and medical points used by the opposition during the past years. This has increased the need for civilians in the city and its countryside to go to the hospital.

However, there are repeated claims about the exploitation of the citizens’ needs for the hospital, forcing them to pay money to perform surgeries that are supposed to be free in public hospitals, using underhanded methods.

Enab Baladi met several cases that were exploited by the medical staff inside the hospital, including Halima, 60. After her surgery was postponed several times by the doctor, she was forced to pay 25,000 Syrian Pounds to perform it in the internal surgery department.

Halima said that the postponement showed her that the doctor wanted money to do the operation. She is not the first or the last to pay the same doctor for that, as there are patients she met who had operations before and others will come after her if the health status continues in the hospital.

A patient from the southern countryside of Quneitra, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, added that patients pay money for going to the outpatient clinics or getting analysis or x-ray, for which the auditors pay a sum of money, though it is a public, not a private hospital; in addition to nepotism used by the patient to obtain the services he needs.

He emphasized that some doctors do not perform any surgery without paying a sum of 50,000 Syrian Pounds.

Going to a private hospital?

Mohamad al-Nuaimi, 50, resident of the Quneitra countryside, told Enab Baladi that he had experienced a sudden heart attack and was transferred to the Abaza Hospital.

In the emergency room, Mohamad was given some medicine. He spent the rest of the night in the intensive care unit. The next morning, the supervising doctor requested an Atherosclerosis treatment to check on the safety of the arteries.

Mohamad’s family was surprised by the equipment failure, and therefore they should wait for it to be fixed and then wait for more than ten patients whose names are listed before him or to follow “dishonest methods” to bring his turn forward. Due to the seriousness of his condition, the doctor asked them to go to a private hospital or the public hospitals in Damascus.

Mohamad decided to go to the private hospital, and there he was asked for 150,000 Syrian Pounds in advance, and he only had half of the amount. His health condition did not intercede, then he was saved after his children borrowed the amount, and he was treated for 175,000 Pounds with the costs of medicines and analyses.

A doctor who worked in Quneitra and at the “Abaza” Hospital, with whom Enab Baladi talked, explained that the emergency operations, such as the appendix and others, are free in public hospitals, and that the treatment is supposed to be utterly free unless the treatment is in the doctor’s private clinic.

The doctor emphasized that the doctors do not have the right to request any amount from the patients, and relating it to the conscience of the doctor and his dedication to work. He also demanded that a complaint be filed against the violating doctor to the hospital administration.

Exploitation despite suffering

In July 2018, Quneitra suffered after the control of the regime forces, as a result of the settlement agreement in the regions of the south backed by Russia, from a decline in the health sector, and the almost complete absence of hospitals and health centers, because of the closure of field hospitals and medical points used by the opposition during the previous years.

The lack of specialist doctors on duty in their clinics within the majority of the villages and towns of Quneitra forced patients to travel a distance of up to 50 km, and bear the hustle of travel and standing at military checkpoints to reach the only hospital, Abaza.

The hospital is the only active hospital in the governorate since its residents suffered from the lack of a hospital after the destruction of the Golan Hospital in the city of Quneitra in 1967.

The hospital started operating at the beginning of 2005, covering an area of 28 square kilometers, and it occupies a floor area of 14 square kilometers, consisting of three floors. The hospital was equipped with a grant from the State of Japan at the end of 2004.

The number of medical beds in the hospital is 200. The hospital consists of some departments: surgical diseases, internal diseases, children, gynecology and obstetrics, ambulance and emergency, intensive care, recently activated dialysis unit, operations, outpatient clinics, radiographic and MRI, and the central laboratory department.

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