Upon the Suspension Of Support: Medical Services At Risk In North Syria
Hama and Idlib healthcare directorates announced the suspension of the European-supported empowerment project, which means that the salaries of medical staff will be paid for only three months, jeboardaizing, thus, health services provided by the two directorates operating in the northern Syria.
In two separate statements released by the healthcare directorates of Hama and Idlib on July 12, 2019, they said that the existing Empowerment Project had been suspended by the donor organizations on July 10, but will continue to provide the medical staff with salaries until October 10, 2019, according to the previously signed agreement with the donors and the policies governing them.
German Organization Suspended Its Support
The announcement of the healthcare directorates in Hama and Idlib provinces came only after the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) has cut its support for the salaries of the administrative workers as reported by Dr. Mohammed Kattoub, the director of the Department of Advocacy at the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).
Kattoub added, telling Enab Baladi, that the German Organization has not ceased all the health directorates’ funding (grant), but only ones supporting the salaries of the administrative staff, clarifying that the funding of the organization includes a health governance project, under which several projects are operated.
The support of operational projects that provide direct services to citizens by the German organization, according to Kattoub, has not stopped, pointing to the absence of stability based on the suspension of the administrative staff’s salaries twice in six months, which is “ very unsettling.”
According to kattoub, the decision to cut support for the salaries of medical personnel is incomprehensible and the backdrop of the decision as well, for it was made in Berlin, indicating that the salaries of medical staff have been halted in the health directorates of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib at present.
Fears of Work’s Suspension
The cuts imposed on the funding of the medical staff in Northern Syria have raised concerns over the possible deterioration of the medical sector in case a new source of funding is not found.
Deputy director of Idilb’s Healthcare Directorate, Mustafa al-Eido, in an interview with Enab Baladi, cited that the suspension of support will impact the work in terms of quality and quantity, pointing that there are fears of “a complete shutdown” in the directorate.
The Response Coordination Group (RC) that documents violations in Northern Syria expressed concern over the suspension of support for the health directorates in the area.
In a statement released on Saturday 13, 2019, the RC team expressed deep regret at the support suspension by donors, which will lead to the suspension of work in more than 160 medical centers, hospitals and blood banks in the region in general.
Further, the team confirmed its full solidarity with the three healthcare directorates, as independent civil service institutions, serving more than 4.7 million people in Northern Syria. The RC also called on the donor organizations’ to resume their medical support in Northern Syria and warned of “the disastrous consequences of stopping the medical support, expressing serious concerns over the diseases and epidemics that might spread in the area.”
Concern About Hayaat Tahrir Al-Shaam(HTS)
The suspension of support for the two healthcare directorates coincides with the military campaign led by the forces of the Syrian regime and Russia in Idlib Governorate. This led to the death of hundreds of civilians and the closure of many healthcare centers and hospitals due to aerial shelling.
The United Nations had recorded 29 attacks on 29 health facilities and staff and attacks on 45 schools as well since the end of April till July 5, 2019.
In January 2019, the European organizations suspended their support for Idilb’s healthcare directorate after the expansion of Hayaat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) in Idlib province.
After one month, the organizations resumed their support but with strict conditions, preventing HTS and the Syrian Salvation Government from interfering in the work of the directorates absolutely.