A steep rise in health costs for refugees in Jordan has led Syrians like 24-year-old Walaa to skip essential check-ups, putting their lives in danger.
Syrian refugee Walaa Abdelkareem was born with a congenital heart defect, a condition caused by a lack of oxygenated blood and heart structure. Three years ago, when her family finally fled central Syria amid fierce airstrikes after two years of internal displacement, the arduous journey to safety in Jordan left her so exhausted that she was rushed to the emergency room as soon as they crossed the border.
Since then she has required regular check-ups at the local government hospital in Al Zarqa, where the family now lives. But earlier this year, a sharp hike in medical costs for Syrian refugees forced Walaa to start taking dangerous risks with her health.
After years of offering health services to Syrian refugees at a generous subsidized rate, last February, the government increased the fees at Ministry of Health (MoH) facilities, pushing up costs by up to five times their previous level.
No longer able to afford the regular hospital check-ups Walaa needed, the family started visiting a local doctor to prescribe medication directly in an effort to economize. But the risks of this approach were laid bare when she recently went to the hospital for her first proper check-up since the costs went up.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), stepped in to try to fill the gap and provide additional funding to ensure refugees get the basic health care they need- UNHCR