"Since the recent earthquakes that struck Syria, there has been a significant increase in the number of patients at our mobile clinic. People fled to camps out of fear that their homes would collapse."
Doctor Abd Abdalset works in a mobile health clinic well-known among the residents of a camp for internally displaced people in Idlib province of Northwest Syria.
Forty-three-year-old Kateba arrived early at Dr Abdalset’s clinic. She brought her grandchildren who had been feeling unwell for a couple of days.
On the night that the earthquakes devastated Deir al-Gharbi, Kateba’s home village, trees became their shelter. Hours later, chilled to the bone, she and her family received some help, including blankets to warm themselves. They then made their way to the displacement camp in search of shelter. It was this long night spent in the cold and rain that led to her grandchildren falling ill. So, upon arrival at the camp, her priority was to find a hospital for them.
“When we asked whether there was a health centre nearby, we learned there is a mobile clinic where went immediately. My grandchildren got the treatment and medicines they needed and now their conditions are improving,” she explained.
In partnership with the Government of France, IOM supports the operations of two mobile clinics in remote areas of Northwest Syria, ensuring that people have access to medical care despite the increase in demands due to the earthquakes. The mobile clinics visit two camps regularly to provide consultations to 40 patients per day. The clinic has seen a 30 per cent increase in its daily workload compared to the pre-earthquake situation.
Dr Abdalset, and his team, work tirelessly to treat as many patients as possible in tough conditions. The mobile clinic is equipped with basic medical supplies and essential medication in order to provide primary care. The clinic refers cases that require advanced treatment to hospitals. One recent referral concerned five-year-old Manahil, who suffered from severe diarrhoea and dehydration. She was initially treated at the mobile clinic and was then transported to the nearest paediatric treatment facility.
“Soon, we hope to increase the supply of medicines to the clinic, both in terms of quantity and variety, to meet rising demand. We also hope to have an ambulance that will accompany the mobile clinic as we travel between locations to refer and transfer special cases to hospitals or specialized centres,” said Dr Abdalset.
Apart from the two mobile clinics, IOM has been supporting the operation of a primary health care centre, which provided more than 3,600 consultations in February alone, and a hospital in Northwest Syria. The facilities offer various medical services from preventive and curative health services, including basic trauma care, communicable disease management, child health and basic nutrition services, to mental health and psychosocial support, protection, and community health services.
IOM's interventions have been crucial in addressing the health care needs those affected by the earthquake emergency. Thanks to its supply chain management and logistics capacity and and the generous in-kind donations from the Governments of France, Norway and Romania, IOM has delivered medicines, medical consumables and equipment to various hospitals, clinics and centres to increase their capacity to treat more people. In total, over 1,500,000 items have been distributed so far since the earthquakes in February. IOM is committed to expanding its health support, providing essential services and responding to emerging needs in the region.