Dr Jamal has worked as a doctor in Syria for more than 35 years and is now working in one of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospitals in the north of the country. Here, he describes how the extraordinary circumstances of the war are leading to extraordinary medical conditions among people in Syria.
“This place used to be a school. It has now become an out-patient clinic; it comprises an in-patient doctor, a pediatrician, a gynaecology clinic.
The proportion of patients with diabetes and hypertension has exponentially increased. In addition, there is a high increase in psychological cases, especially among children and the elderly.
People live in difficult conditions, which is reflected on their morale, and therefore on their illnesses… For an instance, a diabetic whose sugar level is 200 - when he sees a fighter shelling his area, his sugar level could rise to 400. For more than 35 years I’ve worked as a doctor in Syria. Never before have I seen a diabetic patient with a blood sugar level of 644! A very rare condition. I never saw such a case through my working career!
We always need more improvements so we can enhance the quality of service we provide to people. But I believe that in our area, there is no other hospital that is more organized and offers as many basic clinical services as we do.
We are trying, maybe we don’t offer everything to people, but we’re providing the basic essentials.”