Amman, 6 April 2015
Ahead of World Health Day (7 April) CARE International voices its concern about the deteriorating health situation of more than 600,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, and calls on the international community to share the burden with the Government of Jordan.
According to a recent assessment by CARE, Syrian refugees, living outside of camps in Jordan, are increasingly unable to pay for medical treatment and access health services. Since November 2014, Syrian refugees have had to pay fees to use Jordan’s public health facilities and have no free health access anymore, as the costs of this service became increasingly unbearable for the Jordanian government.
“This makes life particularly difficult for Syrian refugee families with children, elderly family members and ones who are suffering from acute or chronic conditions. One refugee mother told me that she cannot afford her insulin anymore and fears to fall into a diabetes coma,” says Salam Kanaan, Country Director of CARE Jordan.
As part of the assessment, CARE spoke with 1,300 families living outside of refugee camps – living with host families or in rented rooms or apartments. Since the conflict began, life for families outside the structured support systems of refugee camps has become increasingly difficult.
Some of the findings of CARE’s assessment:
• Three out of ten families reported that they could not access health services when needed during the last six months.
For most, the reason was that services are too expensive and they could not cover the costs. “Many refugees are telling us that they are rather consulting pharmacies to receive the medication that they think they need to treat their condition, as they cannot afford to go to the doctor. However, often their condition deteriorates afterwards,” says Kanaan.
• Half of pregnant women do not have money to pay for ante-natal care, and 60 percent of mothers with newborns could not afford post-natal care, heightening the risk of health problems for them and their babies. At the same time, the health conditions of Syrian refugees are deteriorating as they face increasingly unhealthy living conditions, for example damp rooms and lack of finances to secure heating in the winter.
• CARE has also found that refugees are expressing a high need for psychosocial and psychological support. “The memories of war, the loss of family members and the constant struggle to survive causes high levels of anxiety. Parents are telling us that their children have forgotten how to speak or are bed-wetting,” explains Kanaan.
Furthermore, food insecurity is rising as the World Food Program has introduced cuts in food voucher support due to limited financial resources available for the Syrian refugee crisis response. Especially female heads of households, elderly persons and people with specific health conditions reported they would often depend on donations from neighbors to cover their food needs and specific food needs for a balanced diet. “Families are borrowing money, selling belongings and depleting their resources to cover food and medical costs. This makes them dependent on neighbors or shop-owners and puts them at risk of exploitation”, says Kanaan.
CARE calls on the international community to support the Government of Jordan to enhance and scale up health services for Syrian families and vulnerable host communities. “We have to ensure that refugees can afford to access health services, particular families with small children, elderly and injured, as well as pregnant women. We need to share the burden with the Government of Jordan so support for Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities can be scaled up, so they can get the treatment they desperately need”, says Kanaan. “Last week, governments have pledged generously in Kuwait. We hope that they will continue to contribute as support still falls short of the vast humanitarian needs caused by this most devastating humanitarian crisis of our times.”
The full urban assessment report will be available in May 2015.
Mahmoud Shabeeb: Mahmoud.Shabeeb@care.org; + 962 (0) 79 71 17 413
Mary Kate MacIsaac: MaryKate.MacIsaac@care.org; + 962 (0) 79 71 17 414