Physical therapy centres in Idlib are struggling with suspension of support and lack of equipment, as it is the case with many other medical centres, which may lead to putting these centres out of service in light of the large number of patients and obstacles that prevent many from receiving medical treatment in hospitals and medical centres in Turkey.
There are nearly 12 physical therapy centres in Idlib city and countryside, as well as other medical centres and hospitals with specialist departments for physical therapy. Only a few centres get financial support, while medics in the other centres work voluntarily in centres suffering from lack of funding, services and equipment. However, such centres are still able to provide medical services to patients throughout Idlib.
Speaking to SOHR, a doctor in charge of a physical therapy centre in Idlib says, “there are many obstacles hindering our work, but we are still able to provide free medical services to patients, as the centre deals with tens of cases daily. Like many other centres, this centre is struggling with lack of equipment needed for physical therapy and little funding for the provision of mobility aids for the disabled. Other challenges include patients’ unwillingness to come forward for treatment, especially because of the lack of resources available to the centre as most of those patients have disabilities and require specialist aids, prosthetic limbs etc.” due to the centre’s poor capabilities, especially since cases with disabilities need specific equipments enhancing the functions of their limbs, muscles and nerves.”
“There are a few physical therapy centres in the region. However, the number of such centres should be larger, so that people with disabilities shoulder no further burdens to travel to faraway centres. Despite all these challenges, the centre continues providing free medical services, including treatment for people with physical and mental disabilities, hemiparesis, brain atrophy, congenital dislocation and psychological rehabilitation for people with amputated limbs before receiving artificial limbs,” the doctor added.
A young man known by his initials as A. S. who has been displaced from west Hama countryside to a camp in Deir Hassan in the northern countryside of Idlib tells SOHR, “I suffer from hemiparesis. After having several surgeries, doctors advised me to have physical therapy to improve the movement of my legs. I go to a physical therapy centre in Sarmada area once a week, but the travel to the centre is exhausting and there are no direct means of transportation to the centre. Moreover, many equipment needed for physical therapy are not there in the centre, which also suffer from the lack of qualified doctors. There is no one supervising my exercise in the centre. I tried many times to head to Turkey, where some of my relatives live, but I could not travel. I prefer not to go to that centre due to its poor services and lack of resources, but I wish I could walk appropriately. Physical therapy is very important to enhance the function of my weak nerves, especially since doctors have advised me to use treadmills for a year, so that I would be able walk appropriately. I hope that the conditions in the centre will improve or I can find a better centre.”
Patients who want to receive medical treatment in hospitals and centres in Turkey are still facing several challenges. Although Turkish authorities have amended earlier decisions and allowed the entry of urgent cases, including cancer cases, from Syria to Turkey, admitting applications for crossing into Turkey takes too long time, while many cases are rejected under measures of medical check by a commission at Bab Al-Hawa crossing on the Syria-Turkey border, where the commission justify their rejection by claiming that these cases can be dealt with in north Syria’s centres.
On the other hand, 90 percent of the cases permitted to enter Turkey are considered “cold cases”. However, they may be delayed for over three months before being allowed to enter Turkey.
According to reliable SOHR sources, there are non-urgent cases permitted to receive treatment in Turkish territory and allowed to enter Turkey in a short time only after paying bribes to officials of the medical commissions at Bab Al-Hawa crossing.
Since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution the number of cases with physical disabilities and brain atrophy who need physical therapy have increased dramatically because of the ongoing war. Meanwhile, some medical centres receive support by humanitarian organizations, such as “Syrian American Medical Society” (SAMS).