Aya, only 10 years old, was hospitalized with severe meningitis. “I have a headache and I can’t see clearly” she says
The first floor pediatric ward, where Aya was admitted, was only recently renovated with the support of PIN. Before construction crews arrived, the first floor was bombed; a skeletal envelope. There were no doors, windows were shattered and hallways were falling apart.
PIN crews installed the windows and doors, repainted the walls and installed new ceramic tiles. They also renovated the room with furniture. The first floor was quickly transformed into a fully functional extension of the hospital below.
It is the only hospital to provide free pediatric care in the area, so its renovation has proven to be a major boon to the local community. The hospital comprises three floors, emerging from the surrounding city like a monolith. Four years ago, the ground floor reopened out of necessity, to provide much-needed healthcare to local residents.
As drug prices rise, public health services need to step up
Drug prices have increased tenfold in Syria since the start of the war, and many hospitals and health centers have never reopened. Aya’s mother explained, “We had to look for a public hospital that offers services for free, otherwise we would have had to go to private hospitals which are very expensive. When my daughter fell ill, I intended to sell all the furniture in my house to go to a private hospital.
On the same floor, Raghib, only five months old, is being treated for pneumonia.
“When a child gets sick, we try to go to one of the free health centers to get medicine. If it requires staying in the hospital, that’s a really big deal,” said her mother Leïla.
“The inability of the individual to cover the cost of health services renders them non-existent. It was the same for us when we had no money to go to private hospitals. For example, if this hospital did not provide its services for free, I would not be able to treat my son. All my husband earns per month is not enough for hospital fees and medicine for two days.
Although the hospital provides vital support to the region, its services are overstretched. The staff treats between 100 and 150 children a day, providing them with the drugs they have. However, drug and equipment shortages mean doctors sometimes have to resort to less effective alternatives.
In the most serious cases, such as Aya and Raghib, children will be admitted to pediatrics as soon as a bed becomes available. At times like these, timing is everything. But, a nurse at the hospital said: “In critical cases, there are golden minutes, and the response must be very quick to save the patient’s life.”
Providing timely medical care is essential, but it’s a challenge when the hospital has so many people to help. “People come from all over the city and the countryside, but the population is very large”, says But.
The renovated hospitalThe ward is currently equipped to accommodate 10 children, but within the next six months PIN hopes to equip all available rooms to provide medical care at the ward’s maximum capacity of 34 children.