Let Us Treat Patients in Syria

10/02/2013
Map of Syria

The conflict in Syria has led to what is arguably one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises since the end of the Cold War. An estimated 115,000 people have been killed, most of them civilians, and many more have been wounded, tortured, or abused. Millions have been driven from their homes, families have been divided, and entire communities torn apart; we must not let considerations of military intervention destroy our ability to focus on getting them help.

As doctors and medical professionals from around the world, the scale of this emergency leaves us horrified. We are appalled by the lack of access to health care for affected civilians, and by the deliberate targeting of medical facilities and personnel. It is our professional, ethical, and moral duty to provide treatment and care to anyone in need. When we cannot do so personally, we are obliged to speak out in support of those risking their lives to provide life-saving assistance.

Systematic assaults on medical professionals, facilities, and patients are breaking Syria’s health-care system and making it nearly impossible for civilians to receive essential medical services. According to WHO, 37 percent of Syrian hospitals have been destroyed and a further 20 percent severely damaged. Makeshift clinics have become fully fledged trauma centers struggling to cope with the injured and sick. According to the Violations Documentation Center, an estimated 469 health workers are currently imprisoned, and about 15,000 doctors have been forced to flee abroad according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Of the 5,000 physicians in Aleppo before the conflict started, only 36 remain.

The full article continues at http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/oct/02/let-us-treat-patients-syria/ on The New York Review of Books’ website.