Syria Update

Millions face health crisis after deadliest year

The security situation in the Syrian Arab Republic remains critical. In 2014, the ongoing crisis affected the health and wellbeing of millions of Syrians. Tens of thousands of people, especially in Idleb, Dier ez-Zor, Al Hassakeh, Aleppo, Homs, Rural Damascus, Lattakia and Tartous, have been internally displaced, and more than 76,000 people, including over 3,500 children, have been killed. This year was the deadliest since the crisis began in 2011. It has been estimated that currently more Syrians die as a result of inadequate health care than as a direct consequence of the ongoing conflict.

The overall health and humanitarian situation in Syria has severely deteriorated as the prolonged conflict continues to affect every aspect of life across the country. The entire population has been affected politically, economically and socially, and the widespread damage to the national health system, water supply and sanitation infrastructures has compounded the suffering and despair.

The UN estimated that the total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria has reached 12.2 million. Syria now has more IDPs – around 7.6 million – than any other country. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that 9,500 Syrians are displaced each day. The number of Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey has reached a staggering 3.8 million.

Over 200,000 people have been killed since the crisis started. Many of the 750,000 people who have been injured have not received rehabilitative care for traumatic injuries due to the lack of healthcare services, and will suffer lifelong disabilities as a result. “While the numbers of sick and wounded have increased during the war, a great many doctors have left the country due to the security situation”.

Public hospitals in Damascus have become overstretched as people from governorates such as al Hassakeh, Dier ez-Zor, Ar Raqqa, Aleppo, Idleb, and Hama flood into the capital city in search of health care. “The capital has become the last place to seek treatment. It is handling the patient load of at least 10 provinces,” laments a doctor in Damascus.

What’s being done…

The number of people who received treatments rose from 6.1 million in 2013 to over 13.8 million in 2014. Around 2.9 million children under five, including almost half a million in hard-to-reach and oppositioncontrolled areas, were vaccinated against polio in November 2014. Almost one third of WHO’s supplies and equipment were delivered to hard-to-reach and oppositioncontrolled areas including Aleppo, Al Hassakeh, Ar Raqqa, Dara’a, Dier ez-Zor, Idleb, and Rural Damascus. Herd immunity against measles improved as a result of the vaccination of 1.1 million children between six months and 15 years old in a nationwide campaign in June 2014. Around 900,000 patients in secondary and tertiary hospitals in Aleppo, Douma, Rural Damascus and Qamishli were treated with medicines and supplies donated by WHO.

The number of Early Warning Alert and Response System (EWARS) sentinel sites rose from 441 in 2013 to 650 in 2014, with a third in opposition-controlled areas. As a result of WHO’s strategic partnership with 56 NGOs, three million people in need received health care.

WHO mapped the status of fun ctionality of all 113 public hospitals and 92% of the country’s 1,750 public health centres. Disease trends in 2014

• 1 case of polio • 31,460 cases of Hepatitis A • 4,352 cases of measles Key capacity building workshops in 2014 • 840 healthcare workers were trained on trauma management • 285 healthcare workers were trained on infection control • 2,783 healthcare workers across the country were trained on HeRAMS • 1,913 health workers were trained on the management of acute malnutrition • 570 non-specialised health workers were trained to integrate MH services at PHCs • 4,000 healthcare workers were trained on early detection of diseases

Turning points in 2014

Polio: Syria has been polio-free for one year. The last case of polio in Syria was diagnosed in January 2014 as a result of numerous polio campaigns.

Secondary/Tertiary Care: The Essential Medicines List (EML) 2014 was developed by WHO. This enhanced the quality and standard of medicines and helped to limit the introduction and sale of counterfeit medicines.

The Early Warning Alert and Response System (EWARS): Over 90% of all reported cases of epidemic-prone diseases, including polio, measles and pertussis, were investigated within 48 hours.

Health Resources Availability Mapping System (HeRAMS): All 113 public hospitals and 92% of 1,750 PHCs were assessed for functionality and accessibility, yielding valuable data for informed decision- making.

Mental health: Basic mental health services were offered for the first time in PHC centres in 2014.

Capacity building: To fill the gap created by the exodus of health professionals, WHO trained 17,000 health workers on various areas including immunization, mental health, nutrition, secondary and tertiary care, health information management, chemical hazards and the management of civil society projects.

Access to treatment: Over 13.8 million people benefited from 246 shipments of medicines, supplies and equipment distributed by WHO across all 14 governorates of Syria. Almost one third of these supplies were delivered to opposition-controlled areas.

Strategic partnership: WHO established 62 co-operation agreements with 56 NGOs. Just under one third of these NGOs are operating in hard-to-reach and opposition-controlled areas. Of all the humanitarian sectors operating across Syria, the health sector has the highest number of NGO partners.

Innovation: Innovative M&E approaches have been implemented to track results. These include WHO’s supply tracking system, health information system, and other standardized data collection tools.

WHO Syrian Arab Republic – Annual Report 2014

 Date of upload: 10th May 2015


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