Wed 21 Oct 2020

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Mobile clinics to restore medical reality in rebel-held northern Syria

Mobile dental clinic in the countryside of Aleppo - 7 December 2019 (Enab Baladi).

Mobile dental clinic in the countryside of Aleppo - 7 December 2019 (Enab Baladi).

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Enab Baladi – Abdul Salam Majaan

Mobile medical clinics in the villages, towns, and camps of northern Syria have patically offset the lack of medical services faced by the people in the area.

These mobile medical clinics provide several medical services, which are regarded as an emergency solution for the population who could not easily find permanent health centers to obtain treatment, either due to their far distance or non-existence in some areas.

With the repeated waves of displacement from the countryside of Hama, Idlib, and the western countryside of Aleppo, the number of camp residents increased, and additional camps were established to accommodate the newly displaced.

Governmental and civil efforts … Clinics traveling across northern Syria

On 13 July 2020, the ministry of health in the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) launched a mobile clinic project, consisting of two clinics roaming the camps north of Aleppo and the villages which do not have health centers.

Each clinic consists of necessary cadres (a doctor, a midwife, a nurse, and a driver) and is equipped with the necessary equipment and logistic materials to make its work successful, the minister of health in the so-called SIG, Doctor Maram al-Sheikh, told Enab Baladi.

The first clinic is touring the camps of the Afrin region, such as “Maamel al-Birin,” “Zagros” and “Silvana” camps, as an early stage, and its tours will expand to cover “al-Diyar” and “Amad” camps in the future.

The second clinic will provide its service in the camps of Azaz and Marea, the villages of al-Ghoz, al-Tuwaihina, and the al-Ward farm, north of Aleppo, in addition to the village of Arshaf and the surrounding camps.

Seven mobile clinics, each with a specific specialty, are operating in the western countryside of Aleppo in coordination with the Aleppo health directorate, the director of the mobile clinics, Abdul Karim Yassin,  told Enab Baladi.

The “Shafak” mobile clinic operates with a women’s specialist in al-Jeneh, the city of Atareb, west of Aleppo, and Kafr Nasih, in the northern countryside of Aleppo.

It provides community health services and receives people with malnutrition, covering approximately 200 patients per month.

The Syrian American Medical Association (SAMS) clinic covers western Atareb and the Sarmada camps in northern Idlib, and provides women health services and enhances the health of communities to approximately 1,200 patients per month.

Besides, the organizations of “Ataa,” “SARD,” “Independent Doctors,” “Monitor” and “Saed” have set up some mobile health clinics to provide various medical services for women’s health, leishmaniasis cases, community health, and malnutrition in the camps of Batabo, Kili, Hazano, Babka, and Kafr Karmin in northern Idlib.

Do mobile clinics cover medical shortages?

Even though mobile clinics are actively providing medical services in northern Syria, people living in places with no permanent medical services are looking for fixed medical points.

There are medical cases that need permanent treatment and medication, such as diabetes and hypertension drugs, which are lacking in mobile clinics, and are not available permanently to receive emergency cases. These mobile clinics are operating in the area for an average of two days a week.

Haji Haydar Haydar, a resident from the village of al-Ghoz, north of Aleppo, told Enab Baladi that people sometimes could not afford treatment in the medical points near their homes because they are experiencing dire economic conditions.

In some cases, families have to pay about 15,000 Syrian Pounds (SYP- 6.7 USD), including the transport costs to reach the nearest medical point and the costs of medicines, which are not found in permanent medical centers.

Not enough positive effects

In an interview with Enab Baladi, the director of Syria’s Response Coordination Group (SRCG), Muhammad Hallaj, explained that the mobile clinics have a positive impact by serving areas that are not covered by permanent medical points and relieving pressure on the main medical points.

The downside of the mobile clinics, specifically in the camp area, is the high population density for which one mobile clinic is not sufficient; as the presence of a million people in displacement camps needs more than one or two thousand mobile clinics to meet medical needs, according to Hallaj.

The total number of displacement camps in northern Syria amounted to 1,293, housing 1,043, 689 people, 382 random camps with 185,557 people, and 911 formal camps with 858,132 people, according to the SRCG. 

 

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