Syria: health in a country undergoing tragic transition

Ziyad Ben Taleb et al present a review of the health related challenges facing the Syrian people, in light of the destruction brought by the recent and ongoing conflict. The review was published in the International Journal of Public Health, 2nd July 2014


Shahba, Syria (c) David Kerry 

The combination of lack of safe water, insufficient healthcare resources, malnutrition, mental trauma, limited vaccinations, forced migration & loss of housing have contributed to the re-emergence of polio and other communicable diseases such as measles, a rise in mental health problems and a growing burden of chronic disease.

The mass displacement of the Syrian refugees has placed a huge burden on the healthcare resources of neighbouring countries. For many refugees, pre-existing conditions and conflict-related mental health problems are being neglected as acute injuries and the containment and treatment of infectious diseases have been prioritised. Indeed, the authors call for attention to be drawn to the urgent need to address chronic disease. Living in areas of conflict and living as a refugee are high stress situations in which it is difficult to remain well, and can increase the negative impact of prexisting disabilities, chronic diseases and mental health.

They urge that "free access of local and international aid organisations to besieged and war-affects populations is an urgent and top priority and should not wait for a political settlement of the conflict"

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