Impact of war on long-term health care


Temporary ceasefires in countries at war like Syria and Yemen allow citizens to receive short-term relief like vaccinations, but what about those who need long-term care for illnesses like cancer?

CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports on the crisis.

Impact of war on long-term health care

Temporary ceasefires in countries at war like Syria and Yemen allow for short-term relief, but what about those who are in need of long-term medical care?

10 year-old Feras Ali Hassan was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 6. Due to ongoing civil war in Yemen, doctors prescribed a shortened treatment, but it was not enough.

“Only after he came back from his absence, we found that the cancer returned, likely because a steady treatment could not be followed,” Ahmed Mohamed, Feras Hassan’s doctor, said. 

Feras Hassan has had to begin treatment all over again. His father said he comes to keep him company and to keep him safe.

“The medicine is not available inside the hospital, they are saying there’s no chemotherapy, there’s no support, not from other institutions or from anywhere,” Ali Hassan, Feras Hassan’s father, said. 

Those needing long-term care are uncounted casualties of war, and face deadly obstacles. Many facilities providing care have been forced to give priority to those injured in war and some facilities have been victims of the violence themselves.

In the war-torn city of Taiz, Yemen, the only cancer center now operates as a makeshift clinic.

“There were 643 deaths in 2015, result [sic] of the closing of our original location and because of the lack of services and medicines, most especially, the lack of availability of specialized and basic chemotherapy,” Mokhtar Said Ahmed, director of Amal Cancer Treatment Center, said. 

In April, the children’s hospital in Aleppo, Syria was hit; in February, a hospital in the neighboring province, Idlib. 

In Afghanistan, a U.S. airstrike hit the only hospital in Kunduz province, leaving more than 40 people dead and forcing the hospital to close.

Doctors Without Borders said airstrikes hit more than 60 of the facilities it supports in Syria last year — a dozen completely destroyed.

These places were already struggling to provide adequate long-term care for those in need, and the wounds of war have made this even more difficult.

In Nigeria, survivors of a seven-year Boko Haram insurgency now face a grim future. Many have lost limbs, which will likely result in lost livelihood.

Those who are sick at home often die at home, thus the real death tolls will likely remain unknown.

“We’re in the middle of it all, and us, the civilians. We are the victims as we turn into the casualties, whether we are in the hospital or at home,” Ali Hassan said.

Dr. Kate Tulenko discusses the impact of war on health care

For more information, CCTV America’s Nathan g spoke to Dr. Kate Tulenko, vice president of Health Systems Innovation at IntraHealth International, about solutions to treating chronic illnesses in war zones.