As Doctors Leave Syria, Public Health Crisis Looms


The death toll in Syria’s ongoing civil war may now be as high as 100,000. As the violence mounts, another emergency is looming: a public health crisis across the region.

That’s the conclusion of a new study published by the British medical journal The Lancet. Syria’s health care system is near collapse. Outbreaks of disease are on the rise in the country, and refugees sheltered beyond the border are also at great risk.

One medical clinic in a poor neighborhood in Beirut is always busy. The two-story building is up a narrow street of cinder-block homes. Syrian refugees have moved in, adding to the crowding and the caseload, Dr. Abdul Kader Abbas says. He says he's treated 758 Syrian families here — many already sick when they arrived in this densely packed neighborhood.

“With the additional numbers,” Abbas says, “we are afraid that any disease could spread easily in such circumstances.” That's the same warning spelled out in the latest Lancet report.

Seventy percent of Syria's medical professionals have fled the country. Public health researchers Dr. Adam Coutts and Dr. Fouad Fouad say there has been a dramatic rise in communicable disease.

The full article continues at on NPR’s website.