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Jordan Humanitarian Fund brings hope to Syrian refugees living with kidney disease

18 Jul 2018


As the conflict rages on in Syria, close to 666,700 people have fled to Jordan. For thousands of them, the Jordan Humanitarian Fund (JHF) has played a crucial role in providing life-saving healthcare.

Established in July 2014, the JHF supports humanitarian response in Jordan and southern Syria. To date, over one million Jordanians and Syrians have benefitted from life-saving interventions supported by Fund.

Fayzeh Faeq Zardan is one of them. We met her at a Jordan Red Crescent clinic where she is being treated for kidney disease.

Zardan shows a picture of her three-year-old son. She is undergoing treatment for kidney disease at a Jordan Red Crescent clinic. Credit: OCHA

“I just had to tell my three-year-old son, ‘no’, that he couldn’t have sweets to mark the end of Ramadan. We cannot afford it,” says Zardan, as she struggles to hold back her tears. Zardan is a 38-year-old Syrian refugee from the western city of Homs. “I don’t even have enough money to feed my family or for the injections I need after this,” she says pointing to a haemodialysis machine to which her arms were attached. The injections complement the dialysis treatment, which she has been receiving for the past three years at a Jordan Red Crescent clinic.

The dialysis removes waste substances and extra salt and fluid from the blood, allowing the kidney to function.

Usually, Zardan would undergo the treatment three times a week, but now she can only afford a visit to the clinic twice a week. “Since I am sick, I cannot work,” she explains. “My husband used to be a construction engineer in Syria, but here he does odd jobs when he can. I cannot afford the transportation cost. We mostly live off the charity of other people or occasional help from donor organizations,” adds Zardan.

Al Barq is able to receive treatment thanks to the JHF. Credit: OCHA

Steps away from her bed, 51-year-old Ghassan Nader Al Barq had a similar story. He developed kidney disease nine years ago, while he was still living in Hama, also in western Syria. Six years ago, when he fled to Jordan, he had received a few dialysis sessions at a private hospital in the capital Amman, but they proved too costly. “I cannot work. My wife is a cook and sells some food in the neighbourhood. We get some help from charities.”

While life for all Syrian refugees, whether inside or outside the country, is tough, for Zardan and Al Barq it is made tougher by their disease and the strain it puts on their families. As of today, there are 171 Syrian refugees in Jordan who suffer from the most-acute phase of kidney failure, known as End-Stage Renal Dialysis (ESRD). 124 of them are receiving critical medical care through the JHF, 37 through UNHCR and 10 through NGOs. ESRD requires either a kidney transplant or continuous haemodialysis treatment.

Zardan and Al Barq are among those who receive life-saving ESRD treatment free of charge thanks to a grant from the JHF to the Qatar Red Crescent (QRC). QRC has a contract with Jordan Red Crescent health centres, where refugees such as Zardan and Al Barq receive treatment. JHF’s intervention has helped improve the refugees’ chance of survival.

According to a 2016 report by the Jordanian Ministry of Health, kidney disease treatment costs an average of US$ 11,000 per patient. This is unaffordable for 93 per cent of refugees in Jordan, who live below the poverty line.

“The Jordan Humanitarian Fund is absolutely critical in meeting the priority needs of vulnerable Syrians and Jordanians in both Jordan and southern Syria”, said Anders Pedersen, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Jordan, calling on donors to boost contributions to Fund. “Our donor contributions are vital to enable us to support priority humanitarian interventions. We are deeply grateful for this support and look to expand the scope and capacity of the fund.”