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An Update from the Ground

March 25, 2019

 

Dear friends, 

 

We have an important update from the ground in Lesvos:

 

We have recently set up a new clinic in Kara Tepe Camp! This marks the third clinic we have opened on the island of Lesvos.

 

Kara Tepe, situated between the city of Mytilene and Camp Moria, is a refugee camp reserved for the most vulnerable groups of people, such as families with small children and refugees with disabilities. The camp is smaller than Moria, with a capacity for 1,200 people.

 

As healthcare providers, we understand the importance of proper nutrition and safe, hygienic facilities in order for our patients to maintain their health and general wellbeing. Living conditions in Kara Tepe are significantly better than in the notorious Camp Moria. The environment is cleaner and residents are housed in isoboxes, and there are no long queues of people waiting hours for food: instead, meals are distributed by the residents themselves with the assistance of staff and volunteers. Furthermore, social facilities, such as play areas and washrooms, are in much better condition and enable more safety and privacy.

 

However, despite Kara Tepe’s positive attributes, the camp still relies on the assistance of NGOs and charities like us for services like healthcare provision. Our work is a priority in the provisional area in which we operate, and we work alongside Medecins du Monde to provide a 7-day-a-week service to refugees, with MDM working from Mondays to Fridays and Kitrinos covering weekends and holiday shifts.

 

We see up to 30 people per day in our Kara Tepe clinic, and the majority of our patients are children. People come to the clinic seeking medical advice and urgent care, and the recent harsh winter weather has been particularly tough on camp residents, leading to many complicated respiratory infections. While these types of infections are common and relatively easy to treat for most of us, the story is very different for those living in refugee camps. Due to minimal access to public services like pharmacies, walk-in clinics or supermarkets, coupled with less-than-adequate living conditions, even simple colds and flues can easily become serious. Since setting up the clinic, our doctor has been faced with multiple urgent situations, and without the prompt response of the local ambulance service, some of our most vulnerable patients (such as babies and toddlers) would otherwise have deteriorated to a critical condition with potentially fatal consequences.

 

Thanks to your donations, we are able to supply medicine to our patients, as well as helping to educate them about the importance of preventative medicine and taking care of one’s own health. However, our budget is extremely limited and as such, we must prioritise the most vulnerable: we are able to provide complete treatment to most of our young patients, but we can only offer others treatment for the first few days of their illness, then referring them to other healthcare providers when necessary. As I’m sure you can imagine, it is very difficult to be told that a doctor cannot give you the treatment you need, and as healthcare providers, having to tell patients we can’t always give them what they need is a heavy weight to bear.

 

It is especially heartbreaking when it comes to inadequate funding for life-saving medication for children too young to speak or advocate for themselves. Though our funding situation remains critical, we have a responsibility to continue to serve those who have entrusted us with their care.

 

We are so grateful to all of those who continue to stand by us and support our work. The amazing people who work and volunteer with us - doctors, directors, co-ordinators, interpreters - simply could not do what they do without the help of people like you, who care about our brothers, sisters and friends in refugee camps as much as we do. Please continue to support our work in Lesvos and beyond by sharing this message with friends and family and on social media, and donating what you can via www.kitrinoshealthcare.org/donate.

 

Thank you very much,

 

Team Kitrinos

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