Humanitarian Health Action

Kuwaiti aid to WHO improves health for Syrians affected by conflict

21 August 2014, Geneva -- A US$45 million donation to the World Health Organization from Kuwait has saved the lives and addressed the health needs of millions of people affected by the conflict in Syria, a new WHO report says.

Rural Damascus has only one functioning hospital per 567 200 patients.
WHO/B. Khabieh
Rural Damascus has only one functioning hospital per 567 200 patients.

The much needed funds have been used to provide essential health care in both government- and opposition-controlled areas within Syria, as well as in neighbouring countries struggling to cope with 2.9 million Syrians who have taken refuge in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, Turkey.

In a final report to the Government of Kuwait on the use of its donation, WHO says it has served to provide several million people with critical medicines to treat life-threatening chronic conditions, such as renal failure, epilepsy, asthma and diabetes, and over 5 million of the sick or injured with medicines, anaesthetics and surgical supplies.

For Syria alone, the Kuwaiti fund enabled more than 2 million of the most vulnerable people in 13 governorates (both in government- and opposition-controlled areas) to access life-saving and psychotropic medicines.

The funds have also been used to track medical stocks, set up disease surveillance systems inside refugee camps and support the provision of basic health care services, including immunization, and clean drinking water in camps and in host communities.

“This donation has made an enormous difference to WHO’s work to save lives in Syria and in neighbouring countries that are being stretched to the limit by the scope of this humanitarian emergency,” said Dr Richard Brennan, Director of WHO’s Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response.

The health situation in the Syrian Arab Republic has been deteriorating rapidly since the crisis began. Three-quarters of the country’s hospitals have been damaged and more than half have ceased functioning altogether. Public health programmes have broken down, local production of medicines has dropped by 70% and safe water supplies are at one-third of pre-crisis levels.

Against this backdrop, meeting the health needs of the more than 750 000 people estimated to have been injured since March 2011, and of the millions of people suffering from life-threatening chronic diseases, requires urgent and committed support from governments.

As refugees have fled the conflict in steady waves, the resources of neighbouring host countries have been severely depleted, straining the coping capacities of local authorities and populations to the limit. Kuwait’s support has helped WHO assist the governments of these countries to establish Early Warning and Response Networks (EWARS) in areas affected by the influx, to deliver basic health services, improve access to essential medicines and supplies, and train staff on mental health care.

Karim Sukr
Media and Communication Officer in Syria
Tel: +96 395 388 8470

Paul Garwood
Communications Officer
World Health Organization
Tel: +41 22 791 1578