Syrian Cancer Patients Suffer From Lack of Treatment, Support

Syrians denied cancer treatment because they are refugees, says activist, adding that UNHCR has let down the patients for no clear reason

The death of 10-year-old Mazen Mubarak earlier this year in Jordan’s Mafraq city highlighted the neglect Syrians living with leukemia face from relief organizations.

Mazen was one of 60 Syrian refugees living with the disease who were deprived of the hope of treatment or recovery.

Activist Najwa Mohammed, along with activists from the "Volunteers for Syria" team, completed a study on the number of Syrian refugees who face life-threatening cancer.

In an interview with Zaman al-Wasl, Najwa said the study aimed to draw attention to the marginalized group of patients who lack medical care, as the situation is often worsened by the high cost of treatment.

The activist said that there are around 60 Syrians currently living with cancer in Jordan, with the number of Jordanian cancer patients numbering 500 in 2011, and the number is expected to grow by 20 percent annually, according to the Hussien Cancer Centre in Amman.

The activist explained that Syrians are denied treatment for cancer because they are refugees, adding that the UNHCR has let down the patients for no clear reason.

Only those refugees who have biometric data records are entitled for the monthly vouchers and medical treatment, she explained, while those who are refused the right for monthly support are not entitled to medical care, even if in need of emergency treatment.

Activist “Mohammed” added that the high cost of screening tests and biopsies prevents refugees from having checks before the disease reaches an advanced stage.

Activist Ferial al-Mohammad, from the Volunteers for Syria team, mentioned that patients do not receive support, as even the UNHCR turns the blind eye to their suffering.

Ferial suggests an increase of aid for treating cancer patients, stating that if each humanitarian organization covered treatment for only a few patients, they might even stop some cases from spreading to cancer stages three or four.

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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