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Syria Refugees Denied Cancer Treatment, Officials Warn

Update Date: May 26, 2014 09:48 AM EDT

Due to lack of funds, Syrian refugees suffering from cancer have been deprived of necessary treatments, warned The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 

Paul Spiegel, the UNHCR's medical chief, said on Monday that aid workers can "treat everyone with measles, but we can't treat everyone with cancer," according to Press TV.

He added that doctors have no other option but to  "turn away cancer patients with poor prognoses because caring for them is too expensive."

"After losing everything at home, cancer patients face even greater suffering abroad -- often at a huge emotional and financial cost to their families," Spiegel said.

Spiegel documented hundreds of refugees in Jordan and Syria who did not receive cancer treatment because of limited funds in a study published in the journal Lancet Oncology. The study involves documentation of  refugees in Jordan and Syria from 2009 to 2012, covering not only those fleeing the Syrian civil war that broke out in 2011, but exiles from older conflicts such as that in Iraq, which began with the US-led ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, AhramOnline reported. 

According to the study, in Jordan, the committee could online approve 246 out of 511 refugee applications for cancer treatment between 2010 and 2012. 

Spiegel called for "innovative financing schemes" to help.

"It could range from a fund that individuals and organisations could donate into, to health insurance or social schemes that exist for nationals in the host country," he told AFP.

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