People Die When Donations Dry Up

The Intercept has reported that funds for dialysis patients in Jordan have run out.

The funding supplied dialysis treatments to approximately 130 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

There are roughly 5 million displaced Syrians throughout the world at this time, and another 218 Syrian dialysis patients in Lebanon face a similar eventuality.

The Syrian American Medical Society, one of the aid groups providing dialysis treatments, is attempting to maintain treatment for their most critical patients, but have already had to restrict some patients to only two treatments per week, which increases suffering as well as the possibility of death.

With humanitarian and medical aid in such high demand, it is difficult for aid organizations to control the outflow of supplies and resources in a way that accounts for and anticipates the need for long term medical care.

Most of the focus is placed on response resources and supplies — things needed for an emergency medical response, but not for the sustained care of patients like those dependent on dialysis.

“Funding has been very hard to maintain since we started. We’ve come close to shutting down or asking workers to go without pay. And it’s been getting even harder and harder to get support. In every way, dialysis patients just don’t feel like a priority to most people — they are a small population, and when you look at it in mathematical terms, they are more expensive than most.” – Majd Isreb, a nephrologist with the Syrian American Medical Society

Even though dialysis treatments in Syria cost only a fraction of what they do in the U.S. ($65 compared to $1,500-$2,000), they are still on the upper end of affordability for most aid organizations, and most patients require treatment three times per week.

The United Nations Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan for Syrians received only half of the funding it needed last year, attributing the decrease in aid donations to what they call “compassion fatigue.”

The crisis in Syria has lasted seven years, and chances are increasing that dialysis patients will be entirely cut off from accessing care.

“About half of the patients needing dialysis in Jordan today developed their conditions after becoming refugees. Many of them had untreated conditions like diabetes that grew worse until their kidneys failed. Because they don’t have access to any kind of screenings or routine care, many are walking around with untreated diseases that could develop into life-threatening conditions later.” – Isreb

The U.N. Refugee Agency have forecast a need of $230 million just in medical care expenses for this year. However, the program was only 27% funded at the end of the first quarter.

If funding does not come through, patients will be cut off from medical care, and many dialysis patients will die as quickly as a week’s time.

“Some patients could die within a week if their dialysis is cut off. How do you tell that to a person?” – Mohammed Sekkarie, a nephrologist in Lebanon

Doctors like Isreb are hoping that donors can overcome their “compassion fatigue” and continue to support medical aid programs that save lives.

“I know they say these treatments are expensive and maybe too expensive to save just one person. But each person is a whole world and they have a family around them. So, I say, no, this is not too much to pay for a human life.” – Isreb

Click here to donate to the Syrian American Medical Society.


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