Eighty-eight-year-old Najah was admitted to the Italian Hospital in Amman, Jordan, suffering from kidney failure along with multiple complications related to her condition. Doctors considered her condition critical and immediately placed her in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU), where she was overseen by the nephrologist who headed the Dialysis Unit.
Najah rapidly responded to treatment and her kidney function returned to normal. The result was so swift, she was taken out of the ICU after just 12 hours. Subsequent check-ups from The Dominican Sisters of the Presentation, who run the hospital, found she was happy and well – though she had to be pushed to take her antibiotics and drink more water!
Due to the success of the treatment, she was allowed to return home within 24 hours; a situation she much preferred as it enabled her to be surrounded by her grandchildren.
Living in the UK, it can be easy to take the right to free healthcare for granted. But many Syrian refugees, like Najah, living in Jordan are simply unable to afford necessary and often life-saving medical assistance. Najah lives with her daughter and her daughter’s family. The eight of them live on just 300 Jordanian dinars a month – an income well below the country’s average and which almost entirely goes on rent (250 dinars a month) and water/electricity bills (30 dinars a month). The cost of her hospital treatment, meanwhile, was over 700 dinars.
Najah, like many of her fellow refugees, fled Syria following the outbreak of civil war in 2011. There are now more than 660,000 Syrians (more than 10 percent of the population) living in Jordan, a situation causing considerable pressure on resources like housing and healthcare.
Organisations like The Italian Hospital and the Karak Hospital have been crucial when it comes to providing medical assistance to the community. In 2020-21, the two hospitals admitted a total of 188 Syrian refugees for essential medical treatment as inpatients, and more than 2,000 outpatients. However, services such as these are under-resourced and over-stretched. The impact of covid-19 has placed additional strain on the hospitals as international funding has been redirected towards the pandemic.