VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Making a difference to Syrian refugees in Jordan
June 20, 2012 by Ned Colt
|IRC doctor Mohammed Al-Natour with a patient at one of the IRC's clinics serving Syrian refugees in Jordan Photo: Haifa Hussain/IRC|
Mohammed Al-Natour says the reason he’s working with the International Rescue Committee is for the simple reason that he likes to “help people.” It’s not surprising that the 34-year-old father of two is a medical doctor. Dr. Natour joined the IRC this year as the health manager of our two new clinics in the Jordanian border cities of Ramtha and Mafraq. He oversees the medical staff at the clinics, which almost exclusively serve Syrian refugees who’ve settled in the area.
Many of the illnesses are those a typical general practitioner might encounter. “We see common infectious illness — like colds and sore throats,” says Dr. Natour. “But we also are seeing patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.” But there are other patients — who need more specific care — resulting from the yearlong conflict in neighboring Syria. In the week since the clinics opened, the doctor says a handful of patients have sought treatment for gunshot wounds and psychological support for physical and mental trauma they experienced in Syria.
Every day, dozens more refugees cross the desert border into Jordan on foot, fleeing fighting in their hometowns. There are now an estimated 30,000 to 110,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, putting extreme pressure on limited medical facilities. Dr. Natour says while there are other groups providing medical support, one difference at the IRC’s clinics is that no one is turned away. The clinics aren’t large — consisting of a waiting room, office, and exam room — but they are having an impact beyond their size. Part of the mission is to provide preventive education and care.
In the future, the IRC is hopeful the clinics will also begin providing psychosocial support for women and girls who’ve been traumatized by the violence in Syria.