Wajih Jumaa, Minister of Health in the Syrian Interim Government. Photo: ARA News
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Gaziantep, Turkey – The absence of security, the lack of relief aid and the displacement of millions of Syrians dispersed in the neighboring countries, were not only direct results of the four-year-old crisis. Poor health conditions and lack of medical supplies constitute major challenges for the concerned institutions.
In an exclusive interview with ARA News, Dr. Wajih Jumaa, Minister of Health in the Syrian Interim Government, shed light on the work of various institutions and organizations inside Syria.
Jumaa talked about the tasks assigned to the ministry, how to implement the projects within Syria and in the refugee camps in neighboring countries.
In September, the ministry was accused of distributing expired vaccines to the medical centers in the Syrian northern province of Idlib, which caused the death of at least 15 children and raised the outrage of residents and activists against the opposition-linked government, demanding immediate resignation of the Health Minister.
Dr. Jumaa denounced what has become known in local media as “Corrupt Vaccine Campaign”, describing it as a “painful phase” in the modern history of the Syrians.
He stressed that the vaccines were not corrupt, but a technical mistake was the reason behind the incident, justifying that the vaccine was dissolved with a substance which led to side effects.
“The next vaccine will be subjected to strict monitoring,” the minister said, promising the Syrians that such incidents will never be repeated.
“We have established three Directorates of Health, which will train members to carry out the vaccination process,” Jumaa told ARA News. “The ministry is suffering from severe shortage of trained staff.”
Ministry Distanced from Military Conflict
The Minister of Health in the Syrian Interim Government considered the profession of medicine as humanitarian work and should be neutralized from all kinds of political or military affiliations, pointing out that the basic objective of this profession is “humane treatment” regardless of his sectarian or racial background.
About the vaccine’s projects organized by the ministry in the Auto-Administration areas (declared by the Democratic Union Party “PYD” in the Syrian Kurdish areas), Dr. Jumaa said: “We as the Ministry of Health are impartial in our interest in the health of the Syrians, and the Kurdish areas are definitely included in our plans.”
Hospitals and Departments of the Ministry
“The Syrian Interim Government cannot fund hospitals treating militants of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS), our mission is to provide health services to the correct party,” Dr. Jumaa told ARA News.
He stressed that the ministry is currently restructuring the health directorates in Syria in order to attract cadres on the ground and founding health centers in 11 provinces across the country.
“The ministry is working on creating an efficient work system, trying to find solutions for major health issues in areas affected by the ongoing war,” Dr. Jumaa concluded.
Interview by: Welaa Ali
Source: ARA News