Working with Syrian doctors in diaspora

Working with Syrian doctors in diaspora

As the world anxiously watches the conflict in Syria, the caregiving medical doctors in Syria are facing immense brutality, such as the barrel bombs by the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Worrisomely, we continue to witness populations displaced across the borders in Syria. We bring to the fore a hitherto neglected subject of great importance for healthcare and sustainable development in crisis zones. Those displaced from Syria are a vastly heterogeneous group. This includes the Syrian medical doctors who are now residing in the southeast of Turkey.

Many of these medical professionals remain in dire straits and are underemployed. Yet, such qualified healthcare personnel, not to forget others such as Syrian nurses in Turkey, can help bring to scale the health services capacity geared toward the Syrians in Turkey and address population-specific healthcare demands and nuances.

Guided by this overarching ethos, Gaziantep University and the World Health Organization (WHO) Gaziantep Field Presence on Nov. 24 began a one-week refresher adoption course on Turkish primary healthcare for Syrian medical doctors, as an innovative cooperation for continuing medical education in a crisis/post-crisis zone.

The immediate aim is to commence building crucial capacity in primary healthcare for Syrian medical doctors who live and reside in Turkey. Our medical doctor colleagues from Syria provide invaluable health services in camps situated near the Turkish-Syrian border, under the supervision of the Turkish medical staff.

The week long refresher course completed last weekend on Nov. 29 brought about greater familiarity with the Turkish primary care and public health services, such as vaccination schedules, not to forget the medicines available in Turkey so the Syrian medical doctors are best equipped to care for patients, as well as healthy people, for preventive medicine under the above framework. Looking into 2015, we envision that this medical education innovation can be scaled up as a model refresher course addressing the needs of other crucial health personnel, such as nurses.

Health is a common denominator for the whole of society, including the conflict-ridden regions of the world. Investments for innovative solutions to medical education during and after a crisis are both essential and timely. Such solutions can build timely capacity for health diplomacy and peace in the Middle East.

As we move toward the United Nations Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we can all contribute to health, development and peace at individual, institutional and country levels.

The refresher course on primary healthcare for Syrian medical doctors in Gaziantep and Southeast Turkey is a veritable model example to these ends. Importantly, it also puts a human face on being both a medical doctor and a displaced population while aiming to best serve one’s community’s needs as a healthcare professional in diaspora in times of conflict and crisis.

We trust similar efforts can help turn adversity to healthcare innovation and sustainable development for us all in a world that is sorely in need of solidarity.