News / Middle East

UN: Health Services for Syrian Refugees Overstretched

Syrian refugee Bushra, 19, registers at the UNHCR center in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon, March 6, 2013.
Syrian refugee Bushra, 19, registers at the UNHCR center in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon, March 6, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
A new report by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says health services for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are increasingly overstretched. The UNHCR says limited funds are limiting the health care refugees are receiving.

The report is the first assessment of the health situation of Syrian refugees in neighboring Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.  The report says the Syria refugee crisis is putting an enormous strain on the health systems and refugees are having difficulty getting the care they need.

The report, which covers the first three months of this year, shows refugees need treatment for injuries, psychological illnesses and communicable diseases, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates more than one million refugees are in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.

The report finds the health situation of Syrian refugees is different from that found among refugees elsewhere who come from low-income countries such as Somalia.  The report says Syrian refugees are not reported to be suffering from high death rates or acute malnutrition.

UNHCR Chief Medical Expert Paul Spiegel says this is because the demographics of the Syrian refugee population are very similar to those in European countries.

"Therefore, you have a lot of older people with chronic diseases and the whole spectrum with many of them taking chronic medications... many of them, who had renal [kidney] dialysis in Syria or were taking cancer treatment and have to cross the border.  So with this amount of people crossing and the burden of disease, which is very high and also compared with Somalia, the cost is extremely high for chronic diseases and the secondary and tertiary referral care.  It makes it extremely difficult to cope," said Spiegel.

The UNHCR has received 55 percent funds it asked for in an appeal it launched early this year for more than $1 billion.

The lack of funding is forcing aid agencies to make some very hard choices regarding health care, Spiegel said in an interview with VOA. People with primary health care diseases and emergency life-threatening cases are given precedence over other sick patients.

"We have very open criteria looking at prognosis, looking at cost, looking at consistent cost, meaning we know dialysis you do not pay for a month and then you stop. You pay forever," he said. "Then very hard decisions are made and many are not funded.  And therefore, they either have to find other funding and in some cases, yes, these people may die."

The UNHCR report finds many of the Syrian refugees are suffering from mental health illness.  It says nearly 22 percent of people in Jordan's Avatar camp have anxiety disorders, 16 percent have schizophrenia, and nine percent post-traumatic stress disorder.  In Lebanon, it says some 400 mental health consultations are conducted weekly.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid