Idlib University Hospital gives medical students an outlet to practice medicine

Rehabilitation of Idlib University Hospital - 20 August 2020 (The Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing)

Rehabilitation of Idlib University Hospital - 20 August 2020 (The Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing)


Enab Baladi – Ali Darwish

In Syria, medical schools consist of six years, the final three years or two years and a half are internships or clerkship training. During this time, students must work extensive hospital hours in a university hospital while supervised by residents and staff before they receive full registration. After completing the intern years, the graduate can go into a specialty program or practice general medicine. However, the opposition-held areas in northern Syria do not have university hospitals.  

On 20 August, the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing with Turkey announced, on its official Facebook page, an agreement between the University of “Idlib” and the administration of the crossing to rehabilitate and operate the Idlib University Hospital, privoulsy known as Ibn Sina Hospital.

The medical students are currently being trained individually, and in little coordination with the hospitals operating in the opposition-controlled areas, Alaa al-Hassan, a student at Idlib University’s Faculty of Medicine, told Enab Baladi

The student said that this training is not sufficient because it is taking place in medical service centers, not academic learning centers, hence the importance of starting a university hospital project.

Before the hospital rehabilitation was announced, several students had demanded to designate specialized centers for their training or to make more scope for them in hospitals for training.  

In mid-June, numerous medical students at the University of Idlib held a protest in front of the opposition’s health directorate; They demanded to be trained within hospitals.

Launch of the first university hospital…  What is its significance?

The rehabilitation work of the hospital began last June, which will receive patients at the beginning of the next academic year, the president of the University of Idlib, Dr. Ahmed Abu Hajar, told Enab Baladi.

The hospital will be an academic teaching one, working to develop medical students’ clinical skills.

Then, graduate students of Idlib University’s Faculty of Medicine will start to do essential hospital work and go into specialty programs. The hospital will begin to serve people of different medical cases, which need follow-up and academic study from the rest of the hospitals in the region, according to “Abu Hajar.”

The hospital includes six medical departments: orthopedic surgery, general surgery, internal medicine, gynecology, cardiology, pediatrics. Besides, there is a unit for diagnostic imaging and radiology, and this is not present in any of the current medical centers.

As for the student Alaa Hassan, the importance of the hospital lies in the fact that it will gather students and their professors in one place, whose first goal is to improve medical students’ knowledge of clinical application along their theoretical side.

According to Hassan, the establishment of Idlib University Hospital is regarded as a positive step for obtaining academic accreditation regionally and nationally.

 According to the president of the University of Idlib, Dr. Ahmed Abu Hajar, the university hospital does not care about the number of beneficiaries of the project because it is concerned with the type of medical conditions and how they are treated.  

Two phases of Idlib University Hospital’s rehabilitation project

The rehabilitation project of Idlib University Hospital is divided into two phases, the first is to rehabilitate the infrastructure, and the second is to secure the rest of the hospital supplies, including medical devices and equipment.

The first phase consists of two parts, the first is nearing completion by rehabilitating the first floor of the hospital building, and the second will be ready before the end of the school year in terms of infrastructure.

So far, four clinic rooms, 15 intensive care beds, and six surgical rooms have been prepared, according to the statement of the hospital director, Ahmed al-Jarak, in an introductory video about the rehabilitation project of the hospital published by the border crossing.

What is the role of the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing?

 Mazen Alloush, the director of public relations and information at Bab al-Hawa crossing, explained to Enab Baladi that the estimated cost of rehabilitating the hospital is open and unspecified, and the crossing is responsible for the operational expenses and salaries of the hospital’s staff for five years, which are the contract period.

The monthly cost of the project is estimated at 70,000 US dollars (USD), and the founding phase of the hospital is 100,000 USD.

Since 2015, the administrations of the crossing and the university have met in several sessions, and the university’s administration has had several requests in order to get some support, especially the medical colleges that were suffering from shortages in several aspects.

Alloush pointed out that “We helped them restore some buildings, and established scientific laboratories, whether for the Faculty of Medicine or Engineering.” Besides, every time the university experiences financial hardship, the administration of the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing supports it to overcome the fınancical blocks from time to time in the framework of cooperation, according to Alloush.

In its support for the university, in 2019, the crossing helped students who could not afford to pay university tuition fees.

The University of Idlib is not funded by any party but instead relies on student registration fees, according to the university’s president, Ahmed Abu Hajar.

Attaching the hospital to the university buildings

Until the end of 2019, Ibn Sina Hospital housed a midwifery institute supported by the Syrian American Medical Association (SAMS).

However, the hospital was added to the university’s buildings last January to be transformed later into a university hospital, and now the building is registered in the directorate of education, not in the health directorate, according to a previous statement by the Idlib Health Director, Munther Khalil.

The area of “Ibn Sina” Hospital is 40,000 square meters, equivalent to the size of all Idlib hospitals combined.

The first floor, which is nearing completion, is three thousand square meters, three times the “Bab Al-Hawa” border hospital with Turkey.

About 15,000 students are registered in the Free Idlib University, which was established in 2015 for the current academic year, while the number of teaching staff between masters and doctoral holders is about 250, and the administrative staff is about 170 workers, according to the university’s official website.

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