Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity

[05-09-2021 02:29 PM]

BY Dominik Bartsch

A quote over 2,000 years old, coined by ‘the father of medicine’, Hippocrates, but one that rings true today more than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made doctors and nurses our superheroes and scientists our saviors as they work tirelessly to stem to spread of the virus, but it has also emphasized the need for a shared global humanity. One in which it doesn’t matter what nationality, ethnicity, gender or socio-economic status you are, but one where every single person has the same right to access and receive quality healthcare.

In Jordan, great strides have been made by the Government in this regard as refugees have been included in the national COVID-19 response plan since the beginning of the pandemic. If a refugee falls ill, he is afforded the same treatment as a Jordanian citizen. Since January 2021, COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed to Jordanians and refugees alike, a model that set a global example.

But we can turn the tables.

Refugees are not just simply sitting at home waiting for a time when they will be able to return to their countries once conflicts end and political solutions are found. Instead, they have skills, knowledge and professional experience ready and waiting to be shared and used for our common good. They want to give back to the country that has been generously hosting them.

Back in late 2020, when Jordan was experiencing a second wave, UNHCR put out a call to refugees who had previous experience and qualifications of working in medical professions. We received over 300 responses. It was clear that many doctors, nurses and pharmacists were eager to put their knowledge to use as the pandemic continued to spread.

After screening the initial list and few rounds of discussions with the Ministry of Health as to how and where this might be possible, today it is with great pride that UNHCR can confirm that the first six refugee medics have begun their work.

They are Anesthesiologists, Dermatologists, Urologists and specialized surgeons. They come from Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and have been registered as refugees in Jordan for several years. Now employed as United Nations Volunteers, they work in several hospitals across the Kingdom.

Back in 2016, the Jordan Compact was signed allowing Syrian refugees to work in the specific economic sectors of agriculture, manufacturing and construction. It was a watershed moment in securing support for Jordan from the international community in return for creating livelihood opportunities for refugees, enabling them to rebuild their lives and provide for their families. But for many refugee professionals who had spent years honing their skills there were little provisions.

As this latest employment of refugee health professionals demonstrates, over five years later there is still a huge potential for refugees to fill gaps that exist in the current Jordanian labor market.

While the pandemic is not over, this is a moment that allows us to find renewed hope. Refugees have so much to offer and can thrive when given the right opportunities. Jordan is yet again setting higher standards and continues to be a model that other countries will follow.

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