Save the Children’s new report shows the horrific devastation to Syria’s health care system after years of civil war. The impact is hardest on children.
Anas, a health care worker describes, “We received a little girl with critical injuries; we could do nothing but wait for her to die because we didn’t have the equipment or the medicines. Till now I can’t remove her face from my mind.”
Over half of Syria’s hospitals have been destroyed and many medical workers have fled the country. Children and others injured by the fighting often cannot be treated effectively or at all due to lack of health workers, medicine or equipment.
Medical conditions that once could be treated easily are now claiming lives. Hunger and malnutrition have further weakened the population making them more vulnerable to disease.
The report shows some of the gruesome examples of the war’s effect with children having limbs amputated because clinics just did not have the right equipment to treat them. Or the case of Omar, a child with cancer, who could not receive treatment because roads were blocked by the fighting. His leg had to be amputated twice because of blood clots forming. His father ended up carrying him on his shoulders across the border to another country for help. By then it was tragically too late.
Power cuts are common in Syria because of the war. Newborn babies have died in their incubators because of this. Anesthesia, commonly used in hospitals around the world, is not available in Syria in many instances. Patients have opted for being knocked out with metal bars instead.
Since hospitals have such few staff left there are reports of parents setting up intravenous drips for their children by themselves.
These findings are just what Save the Children could access. The war has made it difficult to reach many parts of the population. It is believed the medical care crisis is much worse than reported.
What can be done? The fighting has to end and the UN Security Council Resolution ensuring complete humanitarian access must be implemented. The international community needs to stand up for the Syrian children and their families. Every day that goes by more children are lost. For how many more will it be too late?
Save the Children’s says, “The international community is failing Syria’s children, even as they are injured and wounded and are unable to access treatment, as they contract polio and other preventable diseases that kill and disfigure them, and as they suffer and die from not being able to get the right medicine. World leaders must stand up for the smallest victims of this conflict and send a clear message that their suffering and deaths will no longer be tolerated.”