Jordan Update: When minutes are longer than hours
15 June 2016
In a village near Mafraq, Jordan, not far from the Syrian border, Heba and Qasem share a house with two other families. The married couple live here as refugees, with little access to basic services or safe drinking water.
When Heba was near the end of her first pregnancy, she needed emergency care and was rushed to a nearby hospital in Mafraq. Despite the seriousness of her condition, and the risk to the lives of her and the baby, the hospital refused to treat her. They asked her to leave because the delivery she needed didn’t match their terms and conditions, and the couple couldn’t pay the fees.
Since November 2014, Syrian refugees have had to pay the cost of using Jordan’s public health facilities. At the start of the refugee crisis, they received free access, but the costs have become too much to bear for the Jordanian government. This means that Syrian refugees living outside of camps, like Heba and Qasem, are increasingly unable to pay for medical treatment.
Fear filled Qasem. He was worried about losing the baby and about the risks to Heba’s life. He was also worried about hospital fees he could not repay.
Yet there was only one possible choice. He rushed Heba to a hospital in Irbid, which agreed to provide the needed care for a price.
In a moment he will never forget, Qasem felt blessed and full of joy when he heard the first cry of his newborn baby girl, Sham, which means Damascus. “I could have lost them both,” says Qasem. “But when I saw that they were healthy, I started jumping for joy. I couldn’t handle the idea of losing either one of them.”
“Then I had to run to neighbours and family members to collect money and pay the hospital fees,” adds Qasem. Unfortunately he couldn’t collect all of the money needed for the hospital, but at least they let him go home, after he gave them his government identification papers to hold until he paid off his balance.
Thankfully, Medair had just begun a new “cash for health” assistance project to help vulnerable Syrian families in Jordan cover urgent health costs. This pays for health-related care like antenatal care, postnatal care, and delivery fees. Medair also provides unconditional cash assistance to families in need.
“With the cash I have received from Medair, I can now pay the rest of the fees to the hospital and get back my government identification card,” says Qasem, the first recipient of Medair’s cash support. “I will also buy Heba good food and winter clothes, and get a heater for Sham. Thanks so much Medair, I really don’t know what I would have done!”
Medair’s cash assistance project in Jordan is made by possible by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Swiss Solidarity, Woord en Daad (NL), and gifts from Medair’s private supporters around the world.