Tucked away in a quiet side-street of Istanbul’s historic Fatih district, the Nour clinic for Syrian refugees is easy to miss.
Tucked away in a quiet side-street of Istanbul’s historic Fatih district, Dr Mehdi Davut’s clinic for Syrian refugees, with its deceptively small frontage, is easy to miss.
What started as an ad-hoc operation run by a single doctor has evolved into a primary healthcare clinic that sprawls across three floors. It boasts several specialist departments, a blood analysis lab, and a pharmacy.
Dr Davut told Al Jazeera that although Syrian refugees can use Turkish hospitals, many are overcrowded, and the language barrier makes communication difficult, so they come here instead.
“As time went by, and the number of Syrians in Istanbul increased, we found that we needed to open a dental department, an internal medicine department and a pediatrics department. Now we have all kinds of specialities,” he said.
When Al Jazeera filmed at the Syrian Nour clinic several months ago it was serving around 6,000 patients a month. Today it accommodates nearly double that.
In all, 29 doctors, along with their support staff, work here in shifts. All of them are Syrian, and Dr Davut stresses that all are professionals.
“All doctors, nurses, pharmacists and lab technicians working here have accredited and translated credentials, and they have certificates of experience. We don’t just hire anybody.”
The Nour clinic is funded by a mixture of public donations and a small fixed fee from patients who can afford to pay. Some of the equipment has been paid for by the doctors themselves. The clinic also receives support from local Turkish NGOs. Medicine, if available at the inhouse pharmacy, is free.
Dr Davut told Al Jazeera that the clinic gives these medical professionals in exile a sense of purpose.
“We’re unified by a family spirit; we’re not just employees, we do a lot more than the job’s requirements.”
The clinic is part of the wider ‘Syrian Nour Association’, run by Syrians for Syrians, which also operates educational and relief projects, both in Turkey and across the border inside Syria.
Dr Davut says demand for those services is still growing.
“Some of them thought that they’ll stay here for a couple of weeks or a couple of months, but the ordeal got longer and the crisis is getting bigger.”
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