Syria’s shattered health system is forcing health workers to engage in brutal medical practices, and a series of epidemics have left millions of children exposed to a plethora of deadly diseases, Save the Children says in a new report.
Announced Sunday, the report, “A Devastating Toll: the Impact of Three Years of War on the Health of Syria’s Children,” sheds light on a broken health system and its consequences: children not just dying from violent means, but from diseases that would previously either have been treatable or prevented.
According to the report, the extent of the health system collapse in Syria is borne out in many horrific ways, including:
- Children having limbs amputated because clinics don’t have necessary equipment for appropriate treatment
- Newborn babies dying in their incubators during power cuts
- Patients being knocked out with metal bars, owing to a lack of anesthesia
- Patients undergoing potentially deadly person-to-person blood transfusions
“This humanitarian crisis has fast become a health crisis,” Save the Children’s regional director Roger Hearn said.
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Among the most worrying trends is the re-emergence of deadly and disfiguring diseases such as polio and measles, which can permanently maim, paralyze and even kill.
Up to 80,000 children are likely to be infected by polio’s most aggressive form, and are silently spreading the disease.
Two hundred thousand Syrians have died of treatable chronic diseases such as cancer, asthma and diabetes – double the number killed by violence. It is probable that many thousands of these were children. No longer able to buy medication or access regular medical care, everyday conditions are now fatal, according to Save the Children.
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Across Syria, 60 percent of hospitals are damaged or destroyed. Nearly half of Syria’s doctors have fled the country: in Aleppo, a city which should have 2,500 doctors, only 36 remain.
Of the country’s ambulances, 93 percent have been damaged, stolen or destroyed, while many health workers and medical staff have been killed, imprisoned, or have fled the country altogether.
Save the Children calls for the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous resolution on humanitarian access to be implemented immediately, and for children and their families to be given access now to vaccines, food, water, medicines and other life-saving assistance, wherever it is needed.
Photo courtesy: Save the Children