New international partnerships are needed to boost health care in Syria — Global Issues

The online meeting was held ahead of a European Union conference next week to ensure continued international support for Syria and neighboring countries hosting millions of Syrian refugees.

The needs inside Syria are enormous. This year, 12.2 million people will need health services, including some 4.4 million internally displaced people, according to an emergency appeal launched by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Challenges of Health Care Delivery

“Delivering health services to those who need them most remains extremely challenging; not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because more than half of health facilities have closed or are partially functioningsaid Dr Akjamal Makhtumova, the agency’s representative in Syria.

WHO hosted the virtual meeting, in collaboration with the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, director of the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, said maintaining global attention on Syria can be a challenge, given that the war has been raging for more than a decade and that other crises continue to emerge, notably the pandemic and the Ukrainian conflict.

“While this is true – the television crews that once documented children being pulled from the rubble and hospitals reduced to rubble are not documenting Syria’s plight as they once were – the suffering of the Syrian people still exists,” he said.

Dr. Al-Mandhari recently concluded a mission in Syria. He shared heartbreaking examples of suffering, including the story of a single mother of two blind boys who waited two years for heart surgery.

Syria has lost more than half of its health professionals since the start of the war and hospital equipment is under severe strain.

Healing and Empowerment

Dr Al-Mandhari said the WHO was working with partners “to heal Syria and empower it to become a country of peace and prosperity – to build resilient communities, protect health rights and reduce social inequalities”.

He highlighted how improving health in Syria aligns with global efforts to achieve sustainable development that benefits everyone and the planet.

This requires new international cooperation that would support both the resilience and the health of the Syrian people, with a focus on areas such as investment, knowledge sharing, policy and legislation.

“Syria’s fair and peaceful future depends on the renewed commitment of the international community, member states and partners,” he said. “We need new multilateralism to ensure the health of the Syrian people and ensuring social and economic stability and shared prosperity.

End the suffering

While acknowledging the enormous needs and suffering, Dr Al-Mandhari said he returned from Syria with optimism, pointing to signs of resilience and hope.

“Despite the scarcity of financial and human resources, I have also seen health professionals move mountains to serve their population. Despite the pain I felt, I met the wonderful people behind these devastating numbers,” he said.

Let’s not forget the Syrian people. Let’s end their suffering. Let us give them our attention, especially now that the declining socio-economic situation has left millions in need. »

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