Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

ANKARA: Safa al Hussein comes into the consultation room with her four-year-old daughter, Ahed, who has a leg injury she suffered during an attack on the northern Syrian city of Raqa.
She is treated by a doctor and nurse, who are both Syrian like her.
But this healthcare centre is hundreds of kilometres from their native country, in the heart of the Turkish capital, Ankara.
Turkey has taken in more than 3.5 million refugees from Syria since the conflict began in March 2011.
Since then, millions have fled the country or been forced into internal displacement.
The Ankara centre’s medical team is partly made up of Syrian refugees.
After seven weeks of training, administered by the Turkish health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO), they are authorised to work in the migrant health centre, returning to careers they had in Syria.
They take care of Arabic-speaking refugees in Ankara, the majority of whom are Syrian, in a setting that is as reassuring as it is functioning and safe.
The Turkish government has drawn up “extremely progressive legislation for refugees”, said Felix Leger, responsible for health matters in Turkey for the European Commission’s humanitarian aid organisation, ECHO.
ECHO partly finances the training provided to the Syrian refugee doctors and nurses.
“A registered refugee has the same rights in terms of access to health and education as a Turkish citizen,” Leger said.
But language and cultural barriers can be a major obstacle, so the idea emerged that refugee nurses and doctors could themselves help their compatriots overcome those issues, he added.
The training consists of a week of theory classes, followed by six weeks of practical courses in which the Syrian medical staff follow their Turkish counterparts during consultations.
It is a way of certifying the professional skills of those who often fled to Turkey without their diplomas.
They can then work in one of 99 Turkish health centres available for migrants.
So far, more than 800 doctors have been recruited at the end of their course at one of seven training centres, set up since January 2017.
Doctor Nidal Arap, who fled Aleppo in 2012, has been working in the Ankara centre since last June.
He says around 600 patients pass through each day.
“Since (the patients) do not speak Turkish… they could not explain to the doctor what they had, what they wanted. — AFP