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The health and humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria is being severely hampered by a lack of coordination and insufficient funding, say public health doctors Adam Coutts and Fouad M Fouad. The Syrian conflict is now a humanitarian and public health catastrophe for the country and the region. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres described the current situation as the greatest humanitarian disaster of the past two decades, requiring the largest-ever humanitarian appeal.
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.
Geneva (WMA / ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Medical Association (WMA) signed a memorandum of understanding in Geneva today, in which the two organizations agree to join forces in a worldwide effort to combat violence against patients and health-care workers.
Volunteers, who are paid a nominal honorarium for participating in the polio vaccination campaigns, find themselves in a vulnerable position in case of violence against them. The health department officials told Dawn that a woman volunteer developed cardiac problems and remained in hospital for a month after a policeman escorting her during a vaccination campaign in Mardan was targeted by gunmen. They said the woman hadn’t received any assistance from the government and was left at the mercy of Allah.
The Erdoğan government’s use of force in a clampdown on protesters over the weekend has precipitated a deepening human rights and political crisis in Turkey. Human Rights Watch documented a huge wave of arbitrary detentions and police attacks on people who were on hospital premises, as well as on a hospital itself and on makeshift health clinics. With the trade union confederations declaring a strike on June 17, 2013, there were signs of further clampdown on demonstrations in the evening.
Gunmen have killed two anti-polio health workers in north-west Pakistan, police said on Sunday, in the latest violence directed at efforts to eradicate the endemic disease from the country. Two attackers shot the Pakistani health workers, who were on a vaccination drive in Kandar village, said Swabi district police chief, Mohammad Saeed. The gunmen arrived on foot and later disappeared, he added. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. But some militant groups oppose the vaccinations and accuse the workers of spying for the US.
Never having been to Syria, or to an active conflict zone, it is hard for me to fully imagine the types of atrocities that have occurred over the past year. I write this blog post from my comfortable air-conditioned office in downtown Washington DC, and I cannot fully fathom the horrific conditions that Syrians face each day living through a civil war. The graphic images and tear-inducing stories of families being torn apart, children dying in the crossfire, and injured civilians unable to seek proper medical care are hard to digest. The US Government and the international community are faced with a challenging decision of whether or not to intervene with the efforts of the Syrian rebels to oppose the Assad regime.
Zaher Sahloul from the Syrian American Medical Society talks with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Beverly Kirk about the dangers that medical personnel in Syria are facing in the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.