A Devastating Toll. The Impact of Three Years of War on the Health of Syria’s Children

10 MARCH 2014 | GLOBAL

A new report launched by Save the Children- ´A Devastating Toll. The Impact of Three Years of War on the Health of Syria’s Children’ speaks of the devastating consequences the conflict in Syria has had on its children. The report which has been launched to mark the conflict’s third anniversary , says that Syria’s health system has been reduced to a state where “ increasing numbers of children are suffering and dying from diseases that would previously either have been treated or prevented.”

The report looks at the destruction of the health system in Syria and what this means for children and their mothers. It outlines the lack of skilled medical staff and access to child-focused care, equipment and medicine; the impact of the breakdown in the healthcare system on maternal and newborn health; and the rise of vaccine-preventable and infectious diseases in children.

It goes on to detail some of the horrifying ways in which the extent of the decline in Syria’s health system is being felt including:

  • children having limbs amputated because the clinics they present to don’t have necessary equipment to treat them
  • newborn babies dying in their incubators due to power cuts
  • in some cases, patients opting to be knocked out with metal bars for lack of anaesthesia
  • parents arriving at hospital to find no medical staff and hooking up children themselves to intravenous drips.

According to the report, across Syria, 60% of hospitals and 38% of primary health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, and production of drugs has fallen by 70%. Nearly half of Syria’s doctors have fled the country: in Aleppo, a city which should have 2,500 doctors, only 36 remain.

Save the Children calls for the United Nations Security Council resolution 2139 on humanitarian access to be implemented immediately so that vaccines, food, water, medicines and other life-saving assistance can be allowed to cross conflict lines and reach those in need. The devastating plight of Syria’s children, is a failure on the part of the international community and the report urges world leaders to “stand up for the smallest victims of this conflict and send a clear message that their suffering and deaths will no longer be tolerated.”