Activists have expressed regret over the closure of the Hurriya “Freedom” Hospital in the town of Marea, due to what they say the "thieving of the opposition.
The hospital had managed to continue work helping the sick and wounded in Aleppo for two years but was forced to close its doors after all funding and support was ceased by the Interim Government via its ministry of health, and other agencies.
“After four months with no salaries for employees, and a $7,500 debt was owed to the people of Marea who had loaned the money to the hospital in the belief they would be repaid when the funds arrived, a significantly successful relief operation has died," Dr Abdul Rahman al-Hafez explained.
"The hospital helped people in Marea and a wide geographic area covering from Aleppo and Azaz to the Turkish borders," Hafez said.
The hospital started as a small medical point. Toward the end of 2012, it was moved to a big building equipped with all faclities, supported by many voluntary and relief agencies like Doctors Without Borders, the Syrian American Medical Society and the Syria Industrial and Marketing Association.
“Support used to come intermittently, therefore we borrowed money from Marea’s people to pay back when funds came," Hafez explained.
The hospital manager explained that the crisis started in April 2014, when the Interim Government was formed, and the Ministry of Health promised to cover all the hospital’s needs.
But, he said, the government did not keep its promise, only paying salaries and expenses for April, with a decision to cover May, June and July, but did abide by it even until October.
“Because of lack of funds and income, most staff and doctors left the hospital to other medical facilities, which are supported by powerful agencies with stable support. Disconnecting the hospital from the relief agencies was the biggest mistake," Hafez added.
The hospital stayed open for six months without any support and funding, apart from the little money borrowed from Marea’s people. When the hospital representatives contacted the Interim Government, they claimed they were told that the government was only a kind of "formality", with no power or funding and therefore they cannot fund all field hospitals inside Syria.
Bureaucracy and instability inside the Syrian National Coalition makes the government helpless in taking any decision or providing funds.
“The hospital was exceptional, as it had a strategic location on the road between Aleppo and Turkey, it was the only hospital with CT scan and advanced X-ray equipments, with four beds in the ICU and two operation rooms, gynecology department, with about 17 specialists in medicine, general surgery, orthopaedics, and ENT," Hafez said.
Regarding the workload of the hospital, the manager declared that 60 caesarean sections had been performed, the daily outpatient clinic load had reached 5,000 patients for free, besides providing medication. 80% of hospital’s services were delivered to Marea’s people and countryside.
“We were better before joining the Interim Government, we worked with some difficulties, but now we are disabled," Hafez conluded.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer