Fighting in Syria sends health care underground, putting residents at risk
- Year: 2013
- Length: 3:02 minutes (2.78 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
In Syria, opposition forces that captured 21 UN troops near the Golan Heights said today that they would release them, but only after President Bashar al Assad’s military stopped airstrikes and left the area. According to Reuters, an official with the rebel group Martyrs of Yarmouk, made the statement following the capture of the 21 Filipino troops near the village of Jamla yesterday. The UN has condemned the capture and called for their immediate release. As fighting continues throughout Syria, medical staff with Doctors Without Borders said the lack of adequate health services makes the situation “catastrophic” for residents. Medical staff are being targeted and in some instances killed. Christopher Stokes, general director for Doctors without Borders in Belgium, said in a teleconference with reporters today that many of the sites that used to provide health services have been attacked and looted both by government forces and opposition groups. As a result, healthcare has had to go underground.
“We’ve seen a dentist perform a minor surgery, we’ve seen pharmacists provide healthcare. We’ve seen in one case blood transfusions that were not even tested, resulting in the death of the patient, so the patients are given the wrong blood type, so the most basic level of health care are not available in vast areas of the country.” Stokes said much of the capacity of Syria to produce vital medicines has also been destroyed. Audrey Landemann, MSF project coordinator in Syria, said that though most patients who reach their hospital in the north need surgeries due to shootings and explosions, basic care is also a great need.
“One diabetic patient can look for insulin in a lot of places, but will not find the insulin or if he finds insulin, it will cost him around 25 or 30 dollars for one vial of insulin. People with cancers get no treatments and don’t know where to go to get their treatment. People are coming also looking for baby milk or just for flour to do bread.”
Access to reliable information from within the country has also made international response slow, say activists. Dr. Mouna Ghanem works with the activist group Syrian Women Making Peace in Damascus. She told UN Radio that the international media has not been doing a good job in reporting the conflict accurately or neutrally.
“We know that lots of violence has been exercised by the regime and we know that there was a counter violence, but the international media they didn’t play the neutral role. On the contrary, they encouraged people to use violence, they promote the personalities who commit violence as the victors as the heroes, so I think this is not the right role of the media.”
Ghanem, who is on tour in the US with a group of women from the region, said that change must come from within the country and must include people from across the political spectrum.