10 years of the Syrian conflict: a time to act and not merely to remember

Samer Jabbour, Jennifer Leaning, Iman Nuwayhid and others

The health needs in Syria after 10 years of conflict are vast, ranking third after food and protection needs.22 There are major women, child, and adolescent health challenges but inadequate interventions.23 Coverage for required child immunisations has dropped considerably during the conflict years.24

War-related injury prevalence is unknown, but much of the 30% disability prevalence in Syria—double the global average—is probably attributable to war injuries.25 This is a serious challenge in a country with limited rehabilitation services. The health system is fragmented into subnational disconnected systems in areas under control of different conflict actors and cannot meet the complex health needs of the population.

Ratios of health-care workers and functional primary health-care centres are below emergency standards in 135 subdistricts, home to 12·2 million people.22 In areas reconciled with or recaptured by the Syrian Government after 2018, there is insufficient active rebuilding of the health system and widespread health inequalities.26 In northwest Syria, extremist groups infringe on health rights and medical practice.27

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 is reportedly rampant, but low testing capacity, the Syrian Government’s securitisation of information flow about the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, stigma around the virus, and reduced access to health care mean that reported cases are likely to represent only a small fraction of all cases.28 There is a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines in Syria through a reported Syria–Russia–Israel prisoner exchange deal and via the COVAX mechanism.2930

Read full article in The Lancet volume 397, April 3, 2021

Full list of authors: Samer Jabbour; Jennifer Leaning; Iman Nuwayhid; Alastair Ager; Melani Cammett; Omar Dewachi; Fouad M Fouad; Rita Giacaman; Debarati Guha Sapir; Ghassan Hage; Ziad Majed; Rabie Nasser; Annie Sparrow; Paul Spiegel; Ahmad Tarakji; Sarah Leah Whitson; Nasser Yassin

Featured image: Syrian children in refugee camp, Save the Children

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