Thu 19 Sep 2019

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Idlib Hospitals On Verge Of Collapse Due To Military Escalation

An injured child in an Idilb hospital in the aftermath of aerial bombardment of Ariha town- July 25, 2019( Enab Baladi)

An injured child in an Idilb hospital in the aftermath of aerial bombardment of Ariha town- July 25, 2019( Enab Baladi)

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Under the ongoing intense military campaign, launched by the Russian and Syrian aircraft in  Idlib governorate, in northwestern Syria since April 2019, the condtion of the area’s hospitals and medical centers is only worsning.

 A number of these facilities went out of service affected by the heavy bombing of the civilian infrastructure, including medical centers, marketplaces, bakeries and schools, according to the United Nation’s statement made on July 23, under the title “Nightmare in Idlib is Getting Worse.” 

 

In the ever bombarded areas, the suffering of civilians is inflating as a result of the partial damage of medical facilities or their being rendered out of service, when they are turned into a direct target for shelling or are affected by the bombing in the areas surrounding them, concurrent with an increase in the number of wounded and displaced who are in dire need of all kinds of life-saving services. 

 

Thousands Wounded

The Advocacy Manager of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Dr. Mohmmad Kuttoub, spoke to Enab Baladi about the difficulties that the foundation is facing in responding to the needs of the northwestern areas of Syria, under the constant shelling.

He pointed out that SAMS’, which runs the largest hospitals in Idlib governorate, resources have been exhausted, for the number of wounded persons is massive. SAMS was also forced to suspend the work of numerous hospitals in some cases due to the shelling in their vicinity or limit the services other hospitals offer.

For instance, the Maternity Hospitals in Idlib and Ma’ra al-Nu’man stopped working on 26 July due to the shelling near them.

Kuttoub pointed out that the majority of huge hospitals capable of dealing with the bombing related injuries are overburdened with many wounded, not to mention that the military campaign has extended to the large cities such as Idlib, Maara Al-Nu’man and al-Atareb, where these overloaded hospitals exist. Thus, the accommodation capacity of the hospitals there has been reduced to prevent the overcrowding of patients, for the direct bombing of these hospitals will result in a total disaster. 

Dr. Kuttoub indicated that the number of wounded received by SAMA reached 4000 persons until  25 July, apart from the rest of the organizations. 

 

Depletion of medical staff and severe shortage of medicines

The Assistant Director of the Idlib Health Directorate Mustafa al-Aido, speaking to Enab Baladi, assured that the situation of hospitals in Idlib province is very difficult for several reasons. 

The systematic attacks on hospitals in the south of the governorate, the discharge of about 12 hospitals completely from service as a result of direct or indirect bombardment, and the displacement of more than 500 thousand people from the southern areas to the north and the center placed the hospitals in the north and the center under a massive pressure, beyond their capacity.

The increase of the population by half a million with all their health-related problems due to displacement multiplied the challenges facing the hospitals.

Moreover,  al-Aido said that the constant heavy shelling on the residential areas in Idlib province resulting in hundreds of daily wounded persons could cause a critical shortage of medical consumables and medicines. Further, if the situation keeps going like this, this will lead to enormous fatigue and depletion of human resources because hospitals will not be operational on an ongoing daily basis.

 

 More than 3.5 million persons threatned 

The head of the Idlib Health Directorate’s media office, Imad al-Zahran, reported to Enab Baladi that the almost three months bombing campaign in Idlib province rendered more than 32 medical centers and hospitals out of service as a result of total or partial damage.

He added that the hospitals inside Syria and in the border areas consequently have been under great strain, caused by the new wave of displacement as well.

The Response Coordinators Team (RC) recorded the displacement of more than 650,000 persons from the start of February 2019 up to July 14, 2019, which put pressure on the health facilities of the interior and northern areas in Syria.

Al-Zahran mentioned that the capacity of hospitals is limited as they lack the needed funding. Early in 2019, the fund of the health sector has dropped by 40%, and recently the international donors suspended the support of the Health Directorate’s project. 

Al- Zahran also pointed out that the Idilb Health Directorate currently funds about 16 medical centers, including hospitals, dialysis centers, CT centers,  tuberculosis (TB)control center since the donors stopped supporting all these centers for unknown reasons, which increased the tragedy of the health reality in Idlib Province.

Besides, al- Zahran highlighted that the intensive care units (ICU) of all hospitals are preoccupied, with no vacant beds as a consequence of the very serious wounds, caused by the intense shelling, which have been rushed to the Syrian internal and Turkish hospitals.

In addition, the Ct centers receive more than 100 cases on a daily basis, and the services are provided free of charge.

Zahran warned that the very limited healthcare and hospital facilities, the little support provided to them, and the “shameful” response of international organizations to the medical humanitarian situation in the area would lead to a medical disaster,  threatening more than 3.5 million people living in the governorate if the situation on the ground remains unchanged. 

The southern and eastern countryside of Idlib and the northern rural Hama have been subjected to an intense aerial bombing campaign, initiated by the Russian and Syrian air forces since April 2019, which has been only escalating in the past a few days. 

 The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has documented the deaths of more than 400 civilians, northwest Syria in recent months.

The regime and its Russian ally say that the bombing is targeting the “terrorists” in the area and comes in response to shelling of civilian areas under regime control.

However, the Civil Defence and the Human Rights Organizations documented the targeting of civilian areas, far from military headquarters and fronts in Idlib, the countrysides of Hama and Aleppo. 

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