No ophthalmologists in Ras al-Ain

The medical sector in Ras al-Ain suffers from a shortage of staff and equipment - March 25, 2024 (Enab Baladi)

The medical sector in Ras al-Ain suffers from a shortage of staff and equipment - March 25, 2024 (Enab Baladi)


Enab Baladi – Ras al-Ain

The city of Ras al-Ain, northwest of al-Hasakah, is witnessing a lack of ophthalmologists, which constitutes a burden on patients in need of primary examinations or surgeries.

Eye patients in the city have to look for doctors outside the region, either by attempting to travel to Turkey or going to the neighboring city of Tel Abyad (approximately 120 kilometers away), as there are no eye disease specialists in the National hospital, which is the main healthcare facility in Ras al-Ain, nor in the private clinics.

Material costs and distance, Delay worsens disease

Several patients spoke to Enab Baladi about the difficulties they face during their treatment journey outside the city, which has a population of 115,000.

Mohammed al-Sadiq (45 years old), a resident of Ras al-Ain, told Enab Baladi that he suffers from the presence of a cataract in his eye and needs surgery. He went to the Ras al-Ain hospital but did not find any specialist doctor to examine his condition.

He added that he was forced to go to Tel Abyad, despite the long distance, to get an examination, where he waited about four months to receive the necessary treatment, pointing out the necessity of having doctors in the Ras al-Ain National Hospital.

Hanane al-Marai, 35 years old, also suffers from cataract in her left eye and needs surgical intervention.

She mentioned that her condition worsened over the past two years because she did not have the financial ability to go to Tel Abyad city due to the cost of transportation and personal expenses.

The fare from Ras al-Ain to Tel Abyad is 200,000 Syrian pounds for public transport, and if renting a private car, the cost is 700,000 Syrian pounds (about 50 US dollars).

Al-Marai said that she registered in the National Hospital for a transfer to Turkey, but the transfer procedures took five months, which led to the deterioration of her health condition.

On the other hand, Amin al-Matar said that he suffers from allergies in his eyes and needs regular examination by a doctor to assess his condition. He explained that he has to go to Tel Abyad city every week for an examination and sometimes he has to postpone his examination due to the distance and the high financial costs, which affected his health condition, pointing out that he decided to move to Tel Abyad until his health improved.

Only two doctors in Ras al-Ain

Ras al-Ain suffers from a lack of qualified medical staff and the migration of some of them, as well as a shortage of modern medical equipment, leading to a decline in the city’s health situation.

Currently, there are only two doctors from the region, one specialized in dermatology and the other in internal medicine.

The director of health in Ras al-Ain, Rakan al-Jaloud, told Enab Baladi that there is a general shortage in all specializations, not just ophthalmologists.

He clarified that the hospital administration has to refer patients suffering from diseases that require medical intervention to Turkey or Tel Abyad.

He added that the delay in transferring some patients is due to the large number of cases that need to be transferred to Turkey, and that transferring them to Tel Abyad is considered easier and less complicated, especially for patients with “red” conditions, which are the cases that require immediate medical intervention.

He noted that the health directorate is working on providing doctors from Turkey, but this depends on the doctors agreeing to work in Ras al-Ain, pointing to the migration of doctors from the area in search of a better life.

Since 2019, Turkey has been managing the cities of Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad in northern Syria and the service institutions there are run through the administrative center of Turkey’s Urfa province. The local council in the city oversees the implementation of service projects which are modest compared to those carried out in the north of Aleppo province.

Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad are located along the Turkish border, controlled by the Syrian National Army (SNA), and surrounded by frontlines with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and the Turkish border is their only outlet to the outside world.


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