In the farthest northeastern corner of Syria, the majority-desert province of Al-Hasakah province is indisputably remote. For the residents beyond Hasakah’s cities who live in the countryside, war and distance complicate access to basic medical services such as vaccinations.
One heath clinic in the rural town of al-Malikiyah, run by the Kurdish self-administration and funded by the Syrian health ministry, began a campaign in partnership with UNICEF on Tuesday to vaccinate 350 children under age five against hepatitis, polio and measles.
“People living around al-Malikiyah are also committed to the idea of vaccinations–they come from far and wide, in their own cars, to get their kids vaccinated,” Raman Yusif, a journalist based in Irbil, Iraq with family in al-Malikiyah, tells Syria Direct’s Nisreen a-Nasser.
Q: Who got vaccinated?
Although medicine is available in secure Kurdish and regime territories, less fortunate families living in contested territories, where medicine’s hard to come by, brought their children to get vaccinated at al-Malikiyah [located 84km northwest of Qamishli].
War can make it just about impossible to travel, but checkpoints often let women with children seeking treatment pass if they need to get somewhere safe, where there’s medicine.
Q: How are people running this campaign?
For one, Malikiyah’s health center has got its own car, so health workers can drive out to the countryside–at least where it’s safe–to give out vaccines.
People living around al-Malikiyah are also committed to the idea of vaccinations–they come from far and wide, in their own cars, to get their kids vaccinated.
Q: Tell us more about the health system in Kurdish-held lands.
In Kurdish lands, the Syrian Ministry of Health, which happens to pay the majority of health employees’ salaries, provides basic medical supplies. As for the vaccines themselves, those are provided by international organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children.
Since most government health centers in Kurdish-controlled territories are still running, and vaccinations are readily available, the incidence of disease is comparatively low.