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MIDEAST > Border towns risk epidemic, Turkish doctors warn

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Over 1 million people have fled Syria since the start of the crisis. REUTERS photo

Over 1 million people have fled Syria since the start of the crisis. REUTERS photo

Some diseases that have disappeared in Turkey, such as typhoid, measles, oriental sores, tuberculosis and malaria could soon reappear in the country due to the arrival of Syrian refugees, according to a Turkish Medical Association (TTB) report.

“The risk of an epidemic of hepatitis A, varicella, measles and leishmania, which are infectious diseases increasing in prevalence in the region, is very high, especially in Kilis and Reyhanlı,” said the TTB.

“A surveillance program for infectious diseases is needed immediately for the refugees and local community,” it said, noting that an outbreak of measles could even reach Istanbul.

The TTB also noted the increased presence of tuberculosis, noting that authorities should take immediate steps to prevent the spread of the disease.

Vehicles carrying armed Syrians can freely cross Turkish border, and explosive materials that have occasionally been found on patients coming from the conflict area pose a safety risk for doctors and health officials, according to the TTB.

Necessary precautions should be taken to disarm patients and patients’ relatives in the triage areas that are constituted near the border, said the report.

“Some Syrian people introduced as a doctor are able to get inside the intensive care units and whole medical units, especially in the city center of Antakya. The prevention of these people’s accesses by health officers is impossible because of their threatening manners,” the report said.

Such people sometimes argue that health officers do not provide sufficient care for refugees because of ethnic differences, leading to arguments, the report said, adding that such arguments establish a ground for ethnic polarization in the region, which is already sensitive to the issue.

The TTB also warned against unregistered, non-licensed “rehabilitation centers” at which mostly Syrian medical staff serve, stressing the need to inspect and check such places.

The report also said legal procedures should be accurately implemented on firearm injuries.

The report was prepared after visits to the Kilis State Hospital, the Gaziantep Hospital, Hatay State Hospital and Reyhanlı State Hospital.

August/05/2013

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