The Red Cross hospital in Jordan focuses on care for Syrian women and children

Annika Lindroos
Montaha Da’as takes care of baby Abdulla in the Red Cross hospital. Most of the patients are children. Abdulla has contracted bronchitis twice already.
Image: Annika Lindroos

Syrian refugees now arriving at the Azraq camp are in a weaker condition than before.

The hospital managed by the Finnish Red Cross in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan has received 3.5 million euros of aid from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO). The hospital treats refugees from Syria. It focuses particularly on taking care of women and children.

“Gynaecology and childbirths can be managed around the clock. The laboratory is also prepared for Caesarean sections 24 hours a day. This year, 159 children have been born in the hospital,” says the director of the hospital, physician Pentti Haatanen.

Haatanen states that the condition of the new refugees has changed for the worse in the last few weeks. Many of the Syrian refugees are more tired and poorly nourished than before, and they suffer from poor hygiene.

The Red Cross hospital offers general physician services, comparable to a Finnish health centre, and the services of a physician specialised in gynaecology and paediatrics. The typical health problems of the refugees include various infections in the upper respiratory tracts, abdominal illnesses, arterial hypertension, and stress-related symptoms. 

“Fortunately, the current weather conditions in Jordan are good. The influenza epidemics of the winter are over, and the heat waves have not yet begun. In the summer heat, stomach flu and problems caused by dehydration are expected,” Haatanen anticipates.

In addition to other health services, there has been a great need for dental health services in the Azraq camp. A dental clinic was opened in the Red Cross hospital last week. The Syrian refugees may have been without dental health services for a long time. The teeth of the patients can be in bad condition, and the most common procedure has been the removal of a tooth.

The refugee camp’s expansion increases the workload of the hospital

The support from the European Commission have been granted for nine months. At the moment, there are a little under 18,000 refugees in the Azraq refugee camp. According to Haatanen, the services of the hospital suffice, for now, to treat those in need of help, but if the number of refugees grows significantly, the services will have to be re-planned.

“About 4,000 new refugees enter the camp each month. If the camp receives 40,000 inhabitants more during the rest of the year, the hospital will need to be prepared for operations and for treating internal diseases 24 hours a day,” Haatanen estimates.

Therefore ECHO’s support of 3.5 million euros for the hospital is clearly needed.

“The support ensures that the quality of the hospital’s services remains high and those that need help the most can be treated. The services are particularly important for mothers-to-be so that they can give birth in safe conditions. The exceptionally large financial support for the hospital is also a great signal of trust for the Finnish Red Cross, which we are grateful for,” says Toni Vasama, advisor of the Finnish Red Cross in financial and EU matters.

The hospital in the Azraq refugee camp is a common project of the Finnish and German Red Cross organisations, implemented in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Jordan National Red Crescent Society.

There are eight Finnish Red Cross aid workers and approximately a hundred local Jordanian workers employed in the hospital, as well as dozens (50) of Syrian refugees volunteering. Approximately 5,500 patients have been treated in the hospital by the end of March. The hospital is also supported with a million euros by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

As a result of the Syrian Civil War that has lasted for four years, over 3.9 million people have fled to neighbouring countries. Over 627,000 Syrian refugees have gone to Jordan.

You can support the work of the Red Cross by donating to the Disaster Relief Fund:

  • By texting the word ’SPR’ to 16499 (€15/text message)
  • By telephone: Call 0600-122 20 (€20.28 + local network charge)
  • To the bank account: Nordea FI06 2219 1800 0680 00