According to the Oxford dictionary, a hospital is an institution providing medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for sick or injured people. Unfortunately, hospitals in Syria, especially in my province of Swaida, are missing some of the most important requirements to fulfill the definition of a hospital. I bet a picture such as this has never crossed your mind when you heard the word “hospital”:
Can you imagine entering a hospital to find two or three homeless cats wandering carelessly around the hospital’s departments? What about a pregnant woman who enters the hospital to give birth but instead is forced to wait 4 hours because the staff is asleep? Situations like these happen frequently in the National Hospital of Swaida. I have interviewed many people who either work in hospitals or have suffered from the poor medical conditions and will share two cases, as well as address both positive and negative aspects of Syrian hospitals, even though the negative aspects have trumped the positive ones.
Starting off with the positive aspects, all Syrian hospitals offer free medical care for a wide range of different illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes, and provides free vaccines for any kind of disease (ie: rabies, tetanus, polio and many other common diseases). In addition to this, the equipment in Syrian hospitals is very advanced. However, these positive aspects can easily be transformed into negative ones, due to the administrative corruption in some Syrian hospitals. For example, some doctors hide a considerable amount of vaccines with the purpose of giving them to wealthier people or people they are close with, which results in a lack of vaccines for the poor. Another example is that some hospital administrators get money annually from the government to fund the hospitals, but these administrators often choose to keep some of the money for themselves. Later, they can give some back to the government so they may maintain their job. This happens since the government itself is corrupt and frequently fires hospitals administrators if they indeed spend all the funds on new equipment. Continuing with the negative aspects, the sterilization of hospitals, especially in my province, is almost nonexistent. As you wander around the hospitals, you can notice different kinds of animals and insects residing there, such as rats, cats and cockroaches. As we all know, these creatures can carry a lot of diseases like rabies, hepatitis and many more. In addition, hospitals in Swaida don’t test patients for any allergies which might place them in danger.
I have interviewed a local woman who told me about her aunt, who experienced a case of medical negligence. Her aunt was pregnant and suffered from premature birth contractions so she went to a local hospital to get treatment. The doctors there could not find out what she was suffering from so they gave her anesthesia, thinking the pain was emanating from her kidneys. The result was that the woman stopped feeling pain caused by the contractions although they were still there. Her womb ruptured causing the death of the fetus and later on forced the woman to have a hysterectomy – the removal of the uterus.
I also interviewed a man who took another man to the hospital since he was having heart attack. This was a case of lack of hygiene by the staff. When the two arrived to the ICU room, the witness smelled a strange odour and he was shocked to find the nurses frying and cooking food inside the room, while the patients there were barely breathing. Not to mention that people in some hospitals here smoke in the Departments of Respiratory Diseases. These medical flaws happen frequently, especially in Swaida. These flaws can cause many deaths that could have been avoided if the hospitals were well-watched by the government and by their administrations. We see local hospitals suffering from bad medical and hygienic conditions, while the provincial building, where the mayor resides, is one of the most eminent buildings in town. And the question remains: how long will it take for Syrian hospitals to be reformed?
Note: The mentioned cases took place in Swaida city.