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Impact of restricting access to health care services on Syrian refugees in Jordan: evidence from cross-sectional surveys

Ibraheem Khaled Abu Siam (Migration Institute, University of Granada, Granada, Spain)
María Rubio Gómez (Migration Institute, University of Granada, Granada, Spain)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 10 June 2021

Issue publication date: 15 February 2023




Access to health-care services for refugees are always impacted by many factors and strongly associated with population profile, nature of crisis and capacities of hosing countries. Throughout refugee’s crisis, the Jordanian Government has adopted several healthcare access policies to meet the health needs of Syrian refugees while maintaining the stability of the health-care system. The adopted health-care provision policies ranged from enabling to restricting and from affordable to unaffordable. The purpose of this paper is to identify the influence of restricted level of access to essential health services among Syrian refugees in Jordan.


This paper used findings of a cross-sectional surveys conducted over urban Syrian refugees in Jordan in 2017 and 2018 over two different health-care access policies. The first were inclusive and affordable, whereas the other considered very restricting policy owing to high inflation in health-care cost. Access indicators from four main thematic areas were selected including maternal health, family planning, child health and monthly access of household. A comparison between both years’ access indicators was conducted to understand access barriers and its impact.


The comparison between findings of both surveys shows a sudden shift in health-care access and utilization behaviors with increased barriers level thus increased health vulnerabilities. Additionally, the finding during implementation of restricted access policy proves the tendency among some refugees groups to adopt negative adaptation strategies to reduce health-care cost. The participants shifted to use a fragmented health-care, reduced or delayed care seeking and use drugs irrationally weather by self-medication or reduce drug intake.


Understanding access barriers to health services and its negative short-term and long-term impact on refugees’ health status as well as the extended risks to the host communities will help states that hosting refugees building rational access policy to protect whole community and save public health gains during and post crisis. Additionally, it will support donors to better mobilize resources according to the needs while the humanitarian actors and service providers will better contribute to the public health stability during refugee’s crisis.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support provided by UNHCR Jordan office for enabling us to use the finding of health access and utilization surveys as well as for the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


Abu Siam, I.K. and Rubio Gómez, M. (2023), "Impact of restricting access to health care services on Syrian refugees in Jordan: evidence from cross-sectional surveys", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 54-64.



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