Palestinian refugees from Syria in need of health care
With the conflict in Syria, organizations providing health care to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are seeing a different type of patients, in desperate need of treatment. When Maria (7) was shot by a sniper in Syria, the family fled to Lebanon. They were helped by NPA partner organization Mousawat, running a rehabilitation center for disabled Palestinians.
In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees have no right to treatment within the Lebanese health system. Mousawat is an organization trying to fill some of the health care needs of these refugees.
The Syrian conflict has escalated these needs and brought in a new type of patients. One of them is Maria, a 7 years old Palestinian child who was living with her parents in Syria.
Last year, Maria was shot by a sniper in Syria. The bullet penetrated her shoulder tearing her lung and sat in her spine after burning and cutting part of her spinal cord. The shot paralyzed Maria immediately. The hospital in Syria could stop her bleeding and treat her wounds, but could not remove the bullet sitting in her spinal column. Maria’s family decided to flee to Lebanon and seek help. After arriving Lebanon, the family contacted the local organization Mousawat.
Mousawat runs a merited physiotherapy and disability rehabilitation center in Beirut. The center has been run by NPA for almost 25 years in Beirut, and was transferred to Mousawat in 2012. The patients using the center are descendants of the Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon since the exodus of Palestinians from Palestine in 1948. Close to 1500 patients were treated during 2012, many of them included in long term treatment.
The first time Maria’s family came to the center, they brought Maria in a baby-pushchair. After hearing Maria’s story and the medical history of her injury, Mousawat started to act, as a first step to give her a wheelchair and a cushion so that she could move around on her own, without being pushed by others.
Later Mousawat’s rehabilitation team met and discussed the issue of the bullet sitting in the bones of the spine; was it safe to do physiotherapy for a child with a bullet in the spine? Should the bullet be removed? Mousawat decided to send Maria to the American university medical center, who recommended the removal of the bullet.
An organization called Palestinian Children Relief Fund (PCRF) is fundraising for Maria's surgery. Mousawat now treats Maria twice a week, with rehabilitation sessions by physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Through NPA's emergency funding they have provided her with diapers, a bed and a mattress.