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Syrian refugee children abandoned by Lebanese medical facilities

Syrian Refugees | 2018-04-15 14:03:15
Syrian refugee children abandoned by Lebanese medical facilities

(Eqtsad)- A large number of children in Syria and Lebanon, the border areas between Syria and Lebanon as well as the nearby areas reaching the coast city Tartus in Syria and all of the north Lebanon region, have been exhibiting odd symptoms for weeks. These symptoms were: severe diarrhea, sever bowel contractions, fever, faintness and fatigue, and an inability to stand.

 The symptoms usually start with a heavy attack on the child’s body and lasts for ten days, before it fades gradually accordingly with following the prescribed treatment.

However, severe diarrhea has been seen to last even though the infected children were given various diarrhea medications that failed to have any effect, which resulted in many children suffering from dehydration to varying degrees, as some children only suffered from minor dehydration that was remedied by administering a powderized medication to children three times a day that is used to treat severe diarrhea cases. These mediations are contained in small envelopes. In addition, children are given oral vaccines. On the other hand, some children suffered from moderate diarrhea, while some children had to be rushed to hospitals.

Most of the infected children in Syria were taken to hospitals where they were given medications, serums, and vaccines, in order to limit the epidemic. A doctor in Tartus said that 25 children were brought to his children and had the same symptoms.

Lebanese’s border areas with Syria suffered the most (most of the region of north Lebanon), as the disease infested among Syrian and Lebanese children. While Lebanese children were treated in their hospitals, Syrians, who are living under mostly dire conditions, had to deal with expensive treatment costs and were, in most cases, unable to treat their children. Initially, most of them took their children to public clinics for Syrians that are mostly run by trainees who gain experience at the expense of Syrians.

Most of the newly graduated Lebanese doctors were unfamiliar with the case and didn’t know which medication to prescribe, which led to complications for the infected Syrian children, at which point the families were forced to take their children to a private Lebanese doctor which charges 75,000 LBP (about $50), which are added to the hefty costs of medications and the referral to a hospital. Overall, treatment costs, which involves tests and examinations among other things, are way too high, amounting to hundreds of dollars, which is certinally beyond the capabilities of any Syrian refugee in Lebanon.

A mother of an infected Syrian child, who loves in northern Lebanon, told us that she was among the very lucky few, as she took her child to a medical center in “al-Kwashra” town in al-Shamal province in Lebanon where an experienced Syrian doctor works. The Syrian doctor was able to properly diagnose the infected children, and only charges 20,000 LBP (about $13). Her child was treated by muscular injections, as well as medications, and serums that are administrated through the mouth to avoid having to take the child to a hospital and ease the Syrians’ sufferings.

Doctors had different views as to how the disease spread, as some speculated that the cause was a parasitic virus that attacks the abdomen, while others believed that the disease spread via air. A third opinion was that the disease spread with vegetable such as lettuce and parsley.

Syrians have to deal with a significant issue, namely the ill-treatment by most Lebanese people, something that 
was clearly noticed when Syrians headed for Lebanese clinics to have the muscular injections for their children. One clinic refused to give a Syrian child the injection, justifying the decision by “Either the doctor re-examines the child and diagnose him again, or we can’t give him the injection.”

Moreover, pharmacists refuse to administrate the injection even though they accepted the prescription and took money for the medication, including the injections. They responded, however, “Take the child to a doctor who can inject him. We don’t want to bear responsibility and we can’t inject the child.” All of these objections were based on the fact that the diagnosing doctor was a Syrian doctor, and the prescription wasn’t signed by a Lebanese doctor, hospital, or a dispensary.

Most of the time, a Lebanese pharmacist would “mock” the prescription if it was written by a Syrian doctor, as he would undermine the Syrian doctor and question his diagnosis. On the other hand, when the prescription is from a Lebanese doctor, the pharmacist would accept it with no remarks, even though the more effective treatment was described by the Syrian doctor rather than the Lebanese one.

A number of infected children stayed in hospitals for a few days. The children who were registered at the UNHCR were able to complete treatment, as the UNCHR covers 70% of the treatment costs. There were, however, some children who weren’t registered, so their families desperately tried to avoid hospitals due to lack of financial resources, which drove them to show their children to more than one doctor until they recovered.

The disease was sustained by a number of families by touch. Symptoms lasted for five days with taking the proper medication.

Reporting by Ahmed al-Khalil 

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