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Improvements in Healthcare in Syria
The Syrian Arab Republic (more commonly known as Syria) is a Middle Eastern country fraught with danger and grief. It has claimed the news headlines for the past decade. Its violent civil war has led to a shattered government with little to no control over its infrastructure and a diminished ability to provide services to its 17.5 million citizens. Proper healthcare in Syria, especially care focused on women and children, has been a service that suffered. UNICEF is a leading organization that is spearheading efforts in Syria to improve healthcare for women and children. These efforts have led to significant improvements in the health and well-being of both women and their children as years have passed.

Improvement in Numbers and Data

One of the easiest ways to identify the improvements in healthcare in Syria lies within the raw data. The life expectancy of Syrian citizens is one major indicator of healthcare improvements. In addition, life expectancy at birth is steadily increasing in Syria. It reached 71.8 years in 2018 after several years of declining numbers after 2006. This indicates a slow but steady return to its peak in 2005 when life expectancy was 74.43 years of age.  This new incline could be due to a variety of factors. However, healthcare is definitely an important piece of the puzzle in improving life expectancy in a nation’s population.

Both infant deaths and neonatal deaths are steeply declining in Syria. Infant deaths have nearly halved since 2000, with numbers of deaths falling from 10,099 to 5,994 in 2018. Moreover, neonatal deaths have lowered from a peak of 8,804 in 1982 to an all-time low of 3,740 in 2018. These two statistics indicate that even at the earliest stages of life when people are the most vulnerable, healthcare in the Syrian Arab Republic is positively progressing in protecting the fitness of its citizens.

Improvements in Female and Child Care

Both women’s and children’s healthcare have seen an uptick in quality in the past few years. UNICEF supported primary healthcare in Syria for more than 2.2 million women and children despite the country’s crisis and war. For instance, the opening of 61 clinics targeted at displaced or deprived communities allowed for 56,000 vulnerable people (20,000 of whom were children) to receive vaccinations and newborn care. Additionally, UNICEF has provided guidance to hundreds of thousands of people, among them 600,000 caregivers, on proper dietary balance and diversity. This effort led to 1.8 million women and children receiving screening for malnourishment. Among those, 11,500 children were able to receive life-saving treatments for malnutrition. With this new training and healthcare infrastructure beginning to take root in hard to reach places within Syria. Women and children will hopefully have an even better standard of life to look forward to.

The data and efforts to date have significantly impacted Syria’s healthcare system. However, it is important to note that all of this progress is occurring despite a lack of assistance from large funding sources. Therefore, it is imperative that Syria receives enough support via other means to ensure that this progress can continue without experiencing delay or derailment. This is a nation in trouble. However, with aid and care from people and organizations like UNICEF, healthcare in Syria could finally know relief.

Domenic Scalora
Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in Syria
Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, poverty in Syria has dramatically increased due to violence and a collapsed economy. Below are 10 facts about poverty in Syria.

  1. Before the crisis, Syria was a middle-income country. Now, more than 80 percent of people are living in poverty, perhaps the most severe of these facts about poverty in Syria. Within Syria’s shattered economy, 70 percent of people lack regular access to clean water and 95 percent lack satisfactory healthcare. From 2011 to 2016, cumulative GDP loss is estimated at $226 billion.
  2. Since the war began, an estimated 470,000 people have been killed. Of those, 55,000 have been children. Since foreign powers have joined the conflict, the war has become even deadlier.
  3. Before the civil war, Syria was polio-free. However, in 2017, 74 cases of polio were detected.
  4. Since December 2017, an estimated 212,000 people have fled their homes. Most displaced people are living with insufficient access to aid in makeshift shelters. Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, is a particular area of intense fighting unreached by aid. In total since the beginning of the crisis, more than 11 million Syrians have fled their homes to other Syrian cities or to neighboring countries.
  5. Turkey currently hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees at 3.5 million. However, 90 percent of them in Turkey live outside of aid camps and have limited access to basic services.
  6. Children lack educational opportunities and the war has reversed two decades of education progress. More than two million Syrian children are no longer in school. One-third of schools are not in use due to damage.
  7. Children are often seen as a nation’s hope for a better future, but these children have undergone high amounts of stress through having lost loved ones, suffering injuries, missing years of schooling, and experiencing violence and brutality. In addition, children are particularly vulnerable to health risks, abuse or exploitation. Many are drafted into the war or captured on the long trips they must make to safety.
  8. The war has destroyed Syria’s agricultural infrastructure and irrigation systems resulting in decreased food production. Wheat has dramatically suffered from both conflict and low rainfall. Since 2010, the overall food production in Syria has dropped by 40 percent.
  9. Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, Syrian humanitarian needs have increased twelve-fold. An estimated 13.1 million people are in need, and close to three million people are trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas. Of these, more than 90 percent are in Eastern Ghouta.
  10. Charity organizations across the globe are working to help the millions of Syrians affected by the war. Five of the top charity groups are UNICEF, Save The Children, Syrian American Medical Society, The White Helmets and International Rescue Committee.

These facts about poverty in Syria illustrate the need for more help. Humanitarian organizations are struggling to meet the needs that continue to grow. In 2017, $4.6 billion was required to give emergency support and stabilization to families throughout the region. Only half was received. To build resilience against poverty in Syria and to increase peaceful communities, it is essential to increase funding.

– Anne-Marie Maher

Photo: Flickr

Five Ways Foreign Aid Has Improves Health in Syria
Many organizations have contributed to the foreign aid efforts in Syria, and these organizations have not only changed lives, but have contributed to the making of a stronger public health system in several ways. Making health in Syria a priority is the reason why so many people have access to a strengthened healthcare system.

Improved Mortality Rates

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), health aid has been instrumental in decreasing several different kinds of mortality rates and improving health in Syria. Data analyzed by the Syrian Ministry of Health indicated that life expectancy at birth, infant mortality rates, maternal mortality and mortality of toddlers under five years old all fell with improvements in health services. The data taken was over a 40-year period from 1970 to 2009. As foreign aid volunteers and organizers continue to improve health services in Syria, these organizations continue to combat mortality rates that would be much higher if not for the efforts of foreign aid organizations.

Investments in Public Health in Syria

Foreign aid investments in health have been important as organizations look to provide people with strong health services. The importance of health investments can be seen by the Syrian government’s increase in investments since 2009. NCBI also cites investment in public health as having increased over the years. According to NCBI, “Total government expenditure on health as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product was 2.9 in 2009.” As of 2014, according to the WHO, average expenditures had risen to 3.2 percent. Although the Syrian government has increased its investments, more money and involvement means stronger health services for those in need.

Access and Availability of Services

As health officials continue to combat dangerous working conditions in Syria, foreign health aid has been a way to improve health in Syria by increasing the access and availability of medical resources. As the number of trained health officials stays steady or increases in Syria, more people can be served. Also, medical professionals with experience in the field can pass on their expertise and train others who either live in Syria or are coming from abroad.

Access to Medical Resources and Organizations

The medical services and analysis provided by foreign aid groups such as the Syrian International Coalition for Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been important in saving the lives of people in Syria as well as improving health in Syria overall. Also, medical aid has led to networking and pooling resources, which has slowly worked to improve aid in Syria. A network by the WHO was an important plan with hope for future improvement. According to WHO, a man involved with the Syria Relief and Development program, Dr. Adbul Saleam Daif, said “The network will save resources and time, will serve more patients and expand coverage. We’ll have good quality services.”

Spreading Awareness

As people continue to support foreign aid efforts to improve health in Syria, more people in the general public who are not participating directly in the efforts will become aware of the issue and of the positive effects aid has on public health. Also, more people will be able to contribute to the cause and have a chance to personally influence the lives and health of people in need.

– Gabriella Evans

Photo: Flickr