Over the last few days I have found myself depressed, despondent, and angry as I have watched the events in Ukraine unfold. In one image that has been repeated on the news, an elderly man hunched over his cane is waiting with masses of other people at a train station. Does he have Parkinson’s, I wonder? And what happens…will happen…to the hundreds of other people with chronic medical conditions when they suddenly become refugees fleeing from their homeland?
Ukraine is not the first country, of course to suffer at the hands of an aggressor nation, and in the last decades, we have witnessed Syrian refugees fleeing with little more than the bag they can carry.
The effect of war on healthcare has been examined by several researchers who report that protracted war and armed conflicts have displaced populations and led to lasting transformations in health and health care. The repercussions of war go beyond death, injury, and morbidity. The effects of war are long term, reshaping the everyday lives and survival of entire populations. Violence against health-care facilities and professionals has been identified as a major threat to public health worldwide and a wide range of agencies, including local health-care providers, and international humanitarian bodies are put at risk under conditions of war[i]
Each April, when it is Parkinson’s awareness month, I ask my patients and readers: “why should we care?” Why should other members of society care that YOU have Parkinson’s?
Today’s I am asking a broader question of why should we care about the millions of refugees of war? Some, perhaps with Parkinson’s and cancer, and many, I’m sure, with a host of other chronic conditions and acute medical and mental health needs. Who will be or should be expected to provide medication and other resources to the refugees?
Inequities in healthcare access exist in our own country and around the world, and the refugee crisis merely expands the problem to individuals displaced by wars and conflicts.
The World Parkinson’s Program is a Canadian not-for-profit charitable global organization. It was founded by world renowned Canadian neurologist, Dr. Abdul Qayyum Rana, in 2008 and provides free medication, education and assistive devices to those in need around the world. Their vision and mission include a core belief that every individual with Parkinson’s disease should have access to medication, education and any other supportive services that will improve their quality of life regardless of where they are in the world and their financial circumstances.
Visit their program and consider a donation: https://pdprogram.org/
[i] Health in the Arab world: a view from within 4 Changing therapeutic geographies of the Iraqi and Syrian wars
Omar Dewachi, Mac Skelton, Vinh-Kim Nguyen, Fouad M Fouad, Ghassan Abu Sitta, Zeina Maasri, Rita Giacaman www.thelancet.com Vol 383 February 1, 2014
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My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice