Last updated 28 November 2016
Jordan is host to around 629,000 registered refugees, and a roughly equal number are estimated to be living in the country unregistered. Access to free healthcare for refugees living outside the camps in Jordan was stopped in October 2014, creating further difficulties. To support the health burden created by these large numbers, MSF has established a number of health projects where teams undertake surgical interventions, treat non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and provide maternal, child health and mental health services.
Following the closure of the Jordan and Syria border due to a car bomb attack in an area referred to as 'the Berm' in June 2016, only two war-wounded Syrians have arrived at the emergency room of Al Ramtha hospital. For the last three years, the emergency surgical programme inside the government hospital has been offering life-saving trauma surgery for patients injured in the Syrian conflict. Just five kilometres from the Syrian border the project has seen more than 2,400 Syrian war-wounded patients arrive at its emergency room. Around 75 per cent of patients were suffering from polytrauma resulting from blast injuries. Around 90 per cent of all war-wounded patients who come across the border from Syria are initially seen in the MSF project in Al Ramtha.
After the Jordanian government closed its northwestern border with Syria on 21 June 2016, the number of war-wounded has decreased significantly as they are being denied access to Jordan. Should the situation at the borders remain unchanged, MSF fears that its ongoing programmes in Jordan which address the medical needs of war-wounded Syrians could be forced to close. In December 2016, MSF was already forced to close its clinic for war-wounded in Zaatari camp.
In March 2016, MSF opened a private NCD clinic in Ramtha city, providing care to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians. Currently, 1,500 patients are under treatment: around 75 per cent are Syrian and 25 per cent Jordanian. The main diseases treated are hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The clinic also offers mental health services for NCD patients, and home-based care. Health promotion activities are carried out by MSF community health workers.
In July 2016, MFS opened a new child-friendly space within the trauma surgery project in Zaatari refugee camp as part of the mental health activities provided to Syrian war-wounded children in collaboration with other international organisations. Between January and July 2016, over 620 patients received medical treatment at the facility and over 690 psychosocial support sessions were conducted.
In September 2016, MSF started offering free primary healthcare to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians in the comprehensive primary healthcare center in Turra, Sahel Houran, Ramtha. There are outpatient services, maternal health services such as ante- and postnatal care, and mental health services. Health education is also undertaken.
More than 75,000 Syrians are stranded between Syria and Jordan in the northeast of the country. MSF operated a mobile health clinic offering primary healthcare in the berm/Rukban area for 23 days starting on 16 May 2016. Services were provided in trucks, and prioritised children under five as well as pregnant women. MSF also managed referrals in collaboration with the Royal Medical Services, and conducted over 3,500 consultations (more than 200 malnourished children, 10 severely; 500 pregnant women; one baby delivered; three successful emergency medical referrals). After the car bomb attack on the Jordanian border base on 21 June 2016, access to the border was stopped and humanitarian assistance was not provided beyond limited access to water and food.
As of 23 November, UN agencies were allowed to resume their humanitarian aid to the Berm. MSF welcomes the resumption of aid and hopes that it will continue to be provided in a regular and sustained manner. However, we are questioning medical aid delivery through the current set-up in the area, as the triage of medical cases should be carried out or overseen by qualified medical professionals. To this end, MSF continues to negotiate for direct access to Syrians at the berm, and reaffirms/reiterates that provision of independent quality medical care should be provided inside the Berm.
Activities 2015 International Activity Report
Restrictions on working and reductions in international aid have made it even harder for Syrian refugees living in Jordan to access healthcare.
One of the few stable countries in the region, Jordan has registered over 600,000 Syrian refugees (UNHCR, the UN refugee agency) since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, and its infrastructure is understandably under pressure. Since November 2014, Syrians have had to pay to access healthcare in public hospitals, but their resources have been diminishing as they are not allowed to work legally in the country. International funding has also decreased.
There is a huge need for treatment for non-communicable diseases and in 2015 MSF expanded a project offering care to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians with hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In Irbid governorate, activities continued at the Ministry of Health’s Ibn Sina primary health clinic and a second clinic, Ibn Rushd was opened in mid-April in partnership with a local NGO. Home visits were introduced in August. Over 20,000 consultations were conducted for new patients at these clinics over the course of the year.
Year MSF first worked in the country: 2006.
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