Driving through the busy streets of East Amman, Razan, Medair’s Health Officer in Jordan, reaches the house of Sarah, a Syrian refugee who gave birth two weeks ago. Razan is there with a purpose; to assess what help the new mother and her family needs. As Razan enters the house she begins asking questions about the financial situation of the family, including the costs incurred for the baby’s delivery and further health complications. After she has finished gathering the information she needs, Razan returns again to the busy streets of East Amman.
Medair’s Cash for Health project has been running for six years, and Sarah is one of 73,841 people who were reached through Medair’s Cash-for-Health project in 2019. While the project makes up a large part of our programming in Jordan, here are three things you didn’t know about Cash-for-Health:
1. Syrian Refugees Are Expected to Cover Their Own Health Care Costs
“It is hard for Syrian refugees to pay the hospital bills or even get medication for their children when they are sick. This family has no extra money to pay for the hospital and the father is only able to find work for a couple of days each week” says Razan. With the high cost of living in Jordan, Syrian Refugees who do not have a work permit struggle to find the means to feed their families and cover their basic needs, often taking to begging or illegal work to generate income.
“Medair’s cash for health project is providing life-saving assistance in a context appropriate way. We are reaching the most vulnerable who cannot afford basic services such as delivering a baby in a health facility and providing them with the cash directly for the needed service” says Margie Davis Medair’s Deputy Country Director in Jordan.
While Medair operates primary health clinics in many other countries where we work, there is a running and well-established healthcare system in Jordan. In order not to create a parallel system, and to use the resources we have in the most efficient way, cash-for-health intervention allows us to reach the highest number of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Jordan.
2. Medair visits not once, not twice, but multiple times!
Medair’s health officers and volunteers conduct three visits to families who are expecting a newborn; twice before the delivery and once after. These visits are needed to assess which families require assistance most, gather documents to register them, and provide ongoing support such as identifying problems that happen after the birth and sharing important messages about maternal and newborn health.
Alternatively, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma need a continuous supply medication. Therefore, every three months Medair helps cover the cost of such medication for a select number of refugees through cash assistance deposited in ATM cards. The amount received is fixed, calculated by using medication prices and data gathered from previous patients which Medair has served, and health officers regularly visit patients to follow up on their wellbeing.
3. It’s about more than just cash assistance
Although cash assistance is a necessary tool for refugees in Jordan, it does not have the greatest impact as a stand-alone intervention. The real change that happens to the people we serve is evident in the awareness sessions we provide for each and every family we visit, wither they receive the cash assistance or not. These sessions provide them with information that they will remember and benefit from them constantly.
Every three months our Health Officers meet with the selected patients in the Non- Communicable Diseases project to conduct training sessions which encourage a healthier lifestyle and avoid behaviors that could affect their health negatively. “These sessions helped me understand what to do to stay healthy in ways that are accessible and simple. A 30-minute walk around the block with my daughter each day and eating healthy made a noticeable improvement to my health” says Taswahin, a Syrian refugee living in East Amman.