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Confl Health. 2018 Jul 11;12:33. doi: 10.1186/s13031-018-0168-7. eCollection 2018.

Prevalence of non-communicable diseases and access to care among non-camp Syrian refugees in northern Jordan.

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Médecins Sans Frontières, Operational Centre Amsterdam, Amman, Jordan.
2School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.
3Médecins Sans Frontières, Operational Centre Amsterdam, London, UK.
4Ministry of Health, Amman, Jordan.
5Médecins Sans Frontières, Operational Centre Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Tackling the high non-communicable disease (NCD) burden among Syrian refugees poses a challenge to humanitarian actors and host countries. Current response priorities are the identification and integration of key interventions for NCD care into humanitarian programs as well as sustainable financing. To provide evidence for effective NCD intervention planning, we conducted a cross-sectional survey among non-camp Syrian refugees in northern Jordan to investigate the burden and determinants for high NCDs prevalence and NCD multi-morbidities and assess the access to NCD care.


We used a two-stage cluster design with 329 randomly selected clusters and eight households identified through snowball sampling. Consenting households were interviewed about self-reported NCDs, NCD service utilization, and barriers to care.We estimated the adult prevalence of hypertension, diabetes type I/II, cardiovascular- and chronic respiratory conditions, thyroid disease and cancer and analysed the pattern of NCD multi-morbidities. We used the Cox proportional hazard model to calculate the prevalence ratios (PR) to analyse determinants for NCD prevalence and logistic regression to determine risk factors for NCD multi-morbidities by calculating odds ratios (ORs).


Among 8041 adults, 21.8%, (95% CI: 20.9-22.8) suffered from at least one NCD; hypertension (14.0, 95% CI: 13.2-14.8) and diabetes (9.2, 95% CI: 8.5-9.9) were the most prevalent NCDs. NCD multi-morbidities were reported by 44.7% (95% CI: 42.4-47.0) of patients. Higher age was associated with higher NCD prevalence and the risk for NCD-multi-morbidities; education was inversely associated.Of those patients who needed NCD care, 23.0% (95% CI: 20.5-25.6) did not seek it; 61.5% (95% CI: 54.7-67.9) cited provider cost as the main barrier. An NCD medication interruption was reported by 23.1% (95% CI: 20-4-26.1) of patients with regular medication needs; predominant reason was unaffordability (63.4, 95% CI: 56.7-69.6).


The burden of NCDs and multi-morbidities is high among Syrian refugees in northern Jordan. Elderly and those with a lower education are key target groups for NCD prevention and care, which informs NCD service planning and developing patient-centred approaches.Important unmet needs for NCD care exist; removing the main barriers to care could include cost-reduction for medications through humanitarian pricing models. Nevertheless, it is still essential that international donors agencies and countries fulfill their commitment to support the Syrian-crisis response.


Access to health care; Jordan; Multi-morbidities; Non-communicable diseases; Refugees; Syria

Conflict of interest statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the World Medical Assembly (WMA) Declaration of Helsinki - Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects. The study protocol was approved by the Ethical Review Board of MSF (ID 1612). It was also presented to the ethics committee of the Ministry of Health of Jordan and received approval.The authors declare that they have no competing interests.Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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