Egypt: A hospital for refugees and locals in need

Am 02.02.2019 von Rikke Østergård

3 portraits of medical staff in egypt

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Belonging to medical staff at the Alexandria Red Crescent Hospital is not an easy task at the moment. Patient numbers are rising rapidly and conditions are modest. But Naghla Malak, Dahlia Kohl and Said Zahran pursue their work with all their hearts. They appreciate the support they receive from the EU-funded MADAD programme to help their patients.

Busy times at the Red Crescent Hospital

For 32 years Doctor Naghla Malak has been working in the Red Crescent hospital located in the heart of the Alexandria slum district in Egypt. The past years have been the busiest, the laboratory manager has ever experienced. “We are seeing more people here, and the numbers have gone up quickly,” she says.

Many patients who come to the hospital are Syrian refugees – around 125,000 Syrians are currently seeking refuge in Egypt – or people living in the slum district of Alexandria. Some patients come even from areas further away, because the treatment is favorable.

Gynecologist Doctor Dahlia Kohl
Dahlia Kohl says: “I like my job. Nothing in particular, but I enjoy it all.”

„We are accepting poor patients for free,“ says Naghla’s colleague Dr. Dahlia Kohl. „It means a lot to the patients to have the option to receive medical care.“ On her work days, the gynecologist and obstetrician consultant sees around 30 patients. Every patient needs about half an hour. “Currently, I am following a lot of Syrian women´s pregnancies. They are treated the same way and get free visits here, as any other pregnant female.”

New equipment thanks to the MADAD programme

The hospital receives MADAD funding, as it cares for refugees and Egyptians who cannot usually afford medical care. The MADAD programme involves 15 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – including the German Red Cross – to help Syrian refugees and people in host communities. The funding has improved the conditions and facilities in the hospital: The hospital has received new machines and instruments to assist with the pressure of the many patients.

Dahlia Kohl working with ultrasound device
Dahlia Kohl has been working at the Red Crescent hospital in Alexandria for more than 15 years. She appreciates the new ultrasound device.

„It’s very different now. Much better,“ says Dahlia Kohl. „For instance, before we had only an old ultrasound machine, now we have a device with an updated technology. And it is very important what it can do, for example, in terms of tumours and infections,“ she explains. She smiles: „It’s magic. It has changed our situation a lot.“

Laboratory Manager Naghla Malak is also impressed. „We used to send most of our blood tests for analysis outside. But now we are able to analyse them ourselves, we no longer send anything outside. So it is so much better.“

Naghla Malak in her working space
“MADAD made a lot of progress for the work of this laboratory“, says Naghla Malak. “We have new instruments for blood chemistry and other new instruments. And more instruments than we used to.”

„We need your support even more”

Also with Dr. Said Zahran, the door to the examination room opens and closes over and over again. New patients for the paediatrician arrive constantly. Outside his door hundreds of people are queuing.

Doctor Said Zahran has been working at the hospital for seven years. He says: „The work here is very good. The donation from the EU MADAD programme has worked well, and the new instruments give us more help for our work. It is very important. But we need your support even more.“ He is not trying to hide the fact that the patients are many and the resources are few.

Said Zahran in a paedriatric examination room
“This is my life. For about fourty years I have been working for the children,” Said Zahran says.

And it is obvious that the patients who seek help here are in great need of it: „In this area, the economic situation is very bad. We see a lot of borderline malnutrition. You may see a little boy that seems very obese, but he is actually undernutritioned,“ Said explains. People in this area end up eating food of poor quality or with too little variation due to their social situation.

„I feel great“

Despite all the difficulties and the working pressure, Said Zahran, Naghla Malak, Dahlia Kohl and their colleagues in Alexandria Red Crescent Hospital are working tirelessly for people in need. „That is my life. For about forty years I’ve been working for the children,“ Said Zahran says. And the progress is making them more content in their jobs: „I feel great that I can serve more people, now, with better quality and quicker. And the patients seem to trust our work more as well as they trust more in the hospital’s quality.“

» Get to know more about the MADAD Programme.
» Find here more information About the aid in Syria an neighbouring countries.
» Get to know about our work on egypt.

Photos: Rikke Østergård

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Grafik: Logo des Dänischen Roten Kreuzes Rikke Østergård
Rikke Østergård berichtet für das Dänische Rote Kreuz über die Hilfe im Rahmen des MADAD-Projekts, das – finanziert von der Europäischen Union – syrischen Flüchtlingen sowie Gastgemeinden in den Nachbarländern Syriens zugutekommt. Sie trifft Menschen vor Ort und berichtet über sie in Bild und Ton.

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