If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume you’re happy to receive all cookies from the BMA website. Find out more about cookies
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
These cookies are required
These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information we collect is anonymous unless you actively provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.
For example, they can be used to remember certain log-in details, changes you've made to text size, font and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you've asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. These cookies may be used to ensure that all our services and communications are relevant to you. The information these cookies collect cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices you've previously made or personalise your browsing experience meaning you would have to reset these for every visit. In addition, some functionality may not be available if this category is switched off.
Our websites sometimes integrate with other companies’ sites. For example, we integrate with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to make it easier for you to share what you have read. These sites place their own cookies on your browser as a result of us including their icons and ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons on our sites.
Dr Wani is a trainee GP working in palliative care in the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.
Part 1 of 2
I have always felt grief for the unfortunate circumstances of the Syrian people. Whilst many refugees have reached Europe, many reside in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. As I watched these scenes from the comfort of my living room, I felt compelled as a doctor and a human being to help in whatever way possible. One of my medical colleagues, Vhaid Mushtaq, had travelled previously to Adana, in southern Turkey. On learning there would be another humanitarian aid mission in July, I jumped at the chance to get involved.
I travelled with a non-profit organisation called United Aid Network (UAN). Our group consisted of five doctors and seven non-medical humanitarian workers. We worked with a local charity that also consisted of Syrian refugees, and visited three different camps in July 2017. We had all fundraised prior to travelling, and between us raised £15,000. This money went toward food parcels, medical supplies, sanitation projects and school equipment.
When we finally arrived at the first camp in Tuzla, I was overcome with a feeling of sorrow at what laid before me. I had seen such pictures before on television, but seeing it for myself made them very real. There were flimsy tents spread over the sand unsystematically to accommodate 1,000 families. There was limited electricity in several tents. The temperature was almost touching 40 degrees. I had struggled all day in the uncomfortable heat, despite the air conditioning, however these residents did not enjoy such luxuries. Women and children worked the fields in the sweltering heat to support their families. The toilets consisted of a small tent with a hole in the ground flanked by two sandbags, with waste collecting on the other side. There were flies collecting on the other side, and these flies were also in contact with people’s food. Needless to say, the potential for disease was evident. Several taps provided filtered water, which had been installed previously through UAN donations. There was also a makeshift mosque and school.
Turkey hosts over 2.9 million registered Syrians, with around 260,000 accommodated in government run camps1. These camps are well funded and managed. However, there are many refugees living in unregistered camps that do not receive any funding and rely on humanitarian aid. It was for this reason that we visited unregistered refugees.
The Syrian people are some of the most welcoming and hospitable people I have met. Given their unfortunate circumstances, they insisted we have tea on each visit, and prepared large meals for us. This presented a dilemma, as I could only guess how many days’ worth of food they had selflessly prepared, but at the same time it is seen as disrespectful to refuse food when offered.
We ran basic clinics at the camps, which was best described by one of my colleagues as organised chaos. We had brought our own medical supplies with us consisting of analgesia, calpol, antibiotics, dressings and topical treatments; the majority of which was donated. Medications that we did not have were acquired from pharmacies and given to patients in the camp the following day. We performed clinics in tents in each of the camps, in groups of two, in addition to a translator. Most people do not see a doctor unless their condition is life threatening, so on hearing that there were doctors in the camp, a queue of people formed outside the tent, which very quickly became a swarm. Privacy was limited. We worked alongside each other, although there was a separate tent for women.
Read part 2
(Photo credits to Jake Simkin and Rosie Thom)