Syria's Descent into a Public Health Nightmare


Dr. Annie Sparrow spoke to Syria Deeply about the ongoing attrition and targeting of Syria’s doctors, and the rapidly deteriorating public healthcare system inside Syria.

Syria once had one of the best-developed healthcare systems in the Arab world. But as the war wears on, millions of civilians find themselves in desperate need of medical care, facing limited options as doctors have been forced to flee and few medical supplies reach local populations, particularly in opposition-held territory.

Human-rights groups say that systematic and deliberate attacks on medical personnel and facilities have become the norm. Doctors are sometimes forced to work in secret, moving hospitals to underground locations in factories, farms, houses and even caves to avoid ongoing barrel bombing and shelling of their facilities. There they are forced to work with little or no access to electricity or medical supplies; patients suffering from critical wounds are being treated without anesthesia, while doctors perform emergency surgeries in makeshift conditions.

Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group, published a report earlier this year documenting the deaths of 526 medical personnel, "43 percent of whom were specifically targeted" by their killers. The report said that 99 percent of the killings were committed by government forces.

Dr. Annie Sparrow, a pediatrician at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital with extensive field experience in and around Syria, tells Syria Deeply that few specialists remain in Syria, with only two surgeons and one obstetrician left in Deir Ezzor province. A recent New York Times report claims that there are only 13 surgeons left in the city of Aleppo.

“An appalling situation is just going to get worse,” Sparrow says.

The full article continues at: