Since 2011, the war in Syria has caused millions of people to be displaced. Most people who fled the war took refuge in the nearest country: Turkey. Fleeing a war is one of the most traumatic forms of migration. Under these harsh conditions, disease and sickness can be expected.

Health depends on people having access to a livelihood, nourishing food, appropriate shelter, suitable clothing, and hygienic conditions. However, the people who flocked to Turkey due to the war walked for days, sustained injuries along the way, and faced extreme violence and rape. For this reason, by the time that refugees arrived in Turkey, they had sustained substantial damage to their physical and mental health.

While some of these injuries were improved by health services, hospital treatments, and surgeries, many people could not access these services. The most imminent public health problem for refugees in Turkey is a disease; this is only made worse by poor living conditions and exposure to a foreign environment. There has been an observed increase in chickenpox, diphtheria, pertussis, mumps, and neonatal tetanus among child refugees due to the lack of proper vaccination.

One of the least accessible services for Syrians is mother-child healthcare. The majority of refugees are women; however, in the camps, it is not possible to have antenatal visits, delivery care, newborn care, necessary examinations, baby and child monitoring, and family planning. These services are halting even outside of the camps. Refugees cannot access family planning policies and therefore, there has been a rise in undesired pregnancies and infant deaths. Women who are under stress are additionally more vulnerable to miscarriage and birth complications.

Importance of Vaccinations

Vaccines are prepared from microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria that cause disease in people and animals. Vaccines do not have the same ill-effects as exposure to the microorganisms from which they are derived.  This is because vaccines stimulate the immune system to fight against foreign microorganisms without inducing disease. After vaccination, the body can recognize the microbe or the toxin and develop a defense system against it. Thus, when the body encounters the actual microorganism, it can fight and defeat it. A vaccinated individual is now immune to that disease. Immunity is one of the most important public health intervention for preventing deaths and disease.

Which diseases do vaccines protect against?

  • DaBT (the 5-in-1 vaccine or the pentavalent) vaccine protects against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.
  • Polio vaccine protects against poliomyelitis (polio).
  • Hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B-induced jaundice, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis A vaccine protects against hepatitis A-induced jaundice.
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine protects against chickenpox.
  • Hib vaccine protects against H. influenza type b-induced meningitis, pneumonia, and middle ear infections.
  • BCG vaccine protects against tuberculosis.
  • MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine protects against measles, measles-related pneumonia, otitis media, SSPE (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis) disease, congenital rubella syndrome, and mumps.
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects against pneumonia, brain inflammation (encephalitis), and sepsis (blood poisoning).

Importance of Prenatal Care

Every year, more than 600,000 women around the world lose their lives to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Preventive care services are required to promote a healthy birth and protect the health of both the mother and the newborn. These services include prenatal, natal, and postnatal care. Prenatal care is the periodic monitoring of mother and the baby during necessary medical examinations. The goal of prenatal care is to assure that women and babies have healthy pregnancies. During prenatal care, risky pregnancies and diseases can be detected prior to birth. Diseases that may complicate pregnancy can be diagnosed and treated. Decisions can be made around the location and method of birth. Mothers can receive information about nourishment, pregnancy hygiene, the birth itself, post-birth care, infant care, and available methods of family planning after the birth.

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