Young Syrian refugee Abdel Razzaq suffers from kidney failure | Photo: UNHCR
Young Syrian refugee Abdel Razzaq suffers from kidney failure | Photo: UNHCR

UNHCR has said that, due to lack of funding, dozens of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, risk not getting the medical treatment they need to survive. Among them is Abdel Razzaq, a teen suffering from kidney failure.

Life-saving medical treatment for 97 Syrian refugees living in Lebanon could end, given that most of them cannot pay for medic care, according to the United Nations' refugee agency UNHCR. The agency provides a vast range of free treatments for Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, but is only able to fund the costs of regular hospital treatment for chronic diseases including cancer and kidney failure in cooperation with NGOs. Because many of these organizations are currently at risk of losing their funding, the UNHCR fears that more and more people could suffer. 

Abdel's daily fight

Refugees who might soon not get the medical treatment they need include Abdel Razzaq, a teen from Aleppo. Abdel was born with kidney failure. His body needs three dialysis treatments a week to survive. He gets the treatment at the Lebanese hospital in Beqaa Valley. 

"I get tired and throw up," the teen told UNHCR. "I feel dizzy and sometimes my blood pressure dips." 

His health has deteriorated since he fled Syria with his parents seven years ago. The UN agency reported that each dialysis session in Lebanon costs about 100 dollars, a sum that Abdel's family can't pay three times a week, especially because his father can't work on his own due to a serious medical condition. 

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) has funded Abdel's treatment since 2017, but this year the NGO has seen its funds cut. The teen's mother Halime said the cuts are her worst nightmare. ''I think about it day and night'', she told UNHCR in tears. ''What can I do to help him? I can't go back to Syria to get him treatment right now, it's too dangerous''.

Refugees lifes at risk

A recent study carried out by UNHCR reported that 20 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon in need of secondary or tertiary assistance were not able to access such care in 2017. 

There are currently 218 Syrian refugees in Lebanon who need dialysis. Since February 2017, a small number of NGOs have covered the cost of treatment but, as funding is drying up, only 121 patients were guaranteed treatment until the end of 2019.

"There are 97 patients that risk losing life-saving care if the money necessary to cover the cost of treatment will not be guaranteed," explained Mona Kiwan, a public health associate at UNHCR in Lebanon." It is a matter of life or death."


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