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Medicine for Syrians in need
– by Mona Naggar
The waiting room is choc-full. 60 year old Samya Hallak rocks her grandson in her arm, waiting for her daughter who has just gone into the treatment room: “She is at the end of her tether. I hope the doctor can help her.” More than a year ago, Samya fled with her family from Aleppo in Northern Syria. She now lives in Antakya. Although Syrian refugees can go to Turkish public hospitals, Samya prefers to take her daughter to this clinic: “Everybody here is Syrian and speaks Arabic. Doctors and nurses treat us well. We don’t feel like strangers.”
The “Poliyclinic Dr. Najjar” is in a quiet side street in Reyhanli. It is open to all Syrians, free of cost. Around 400 patients are treated per day. This medical centre is the project of the retired Syrian doctor Hassan Najjar. In summer 2011, with the growing militarisation of the Syrian rebellion and rising numbers of refugees, Najjar said good-bye to his placid life as an old-age pensioner. From Freiberg in Germany, where he had lived for 25 years, he moved to southern Turkey and, step by step, built his small clinic. Today, ten doctors of different specialities work here, plus 14 more employees, cleaners, pharmacists and laboratory assistants. All are from Syria. The hospital is financed by the humanitarian organisation International Medical Corps and by donations.
The centre’s gynaecologist used to run a gynaecological surgery in north-western Syria. She says: “Many women come to see me with psychosomatic problems, for instance, irregular menstruation. That is no surprise – each patient carries a mountain of pain on her shoulders.“ The clinic’s lab technician points out that a welcoming atmosphere is crucial: “It is like balm on people’s hurt souls.”
79-yer-old Hassan Najjar would like to extend the clinic, add more specialities like dermatology or neurology, and establish a small operating theatre. But the first and foremost wish of this energetic man is for the war in Syria to end.
Mona Naggar is a journalist and media trainer. She lives in Beirut, Lebanon.
Poliyclinic Dr. Najjar (in Arabic):
International Medical Corps (IMC):