Heart Disease in Syrian Refugee Children: Experience at Jordan University Hospital

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Background Since March 2011, an estimated 600,000 Syrian refugees crossed into Jordan, of which 52% were children. Demand for health care is overwhelming. The burden of heart disease in Syrian refugee children is not known. The aim of this study WAS to describe heart disease in Syrian refugee children in terms of diagnoses, presentation, outcome, and funding sources for treatment. Methods From April 1, 2012 to April 30, 2014, data on Syrian refugee children who were referred to the Pediatric Cardiology Department at Jordan University Hospital and were found to have heart disease was recorded. In this study, we describe diagnoses, presentations, complications, and mortality. We discuss therapeutic procedures and their funding sources. Patients were followed until July 31, 2014. Findings In all, 119 children, median age 2 years (6 days to 16 years), were diagnosed with heart disease. At presentation, 37% had failure to thrive, 13% had severe complications, and 32% of cyanotic patients had severe hypoxia with oxygen saturation of <70%. Mortality rate was 14% by end of follow up. Of 73 surgical procedures recommended, only 28 were funded and performed; others have been waiting for a median of 223 days (35-534 days). Funding for procedures came from multiple sources; including the United Nations, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and individual donations. Conclusion Heart disease in Syrian refugee children constitutes a major problem for both patients and health systems of host countries. Late presentation and diagnosis, high rate of complications, suboptimal living conditions, lack of funding, shortage of specialized centers and personnel, and high mortality rates are among the major challenges facing this patient population.




Al-Ammouri, I., & Ayoub, F. (2016). Heart Disease in Syrian Refugee Children: Experience at Jordan University Hospital. Annals of Global Health, 82(2), 300–306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aogh.2015.02.517

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