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Global Health Community Must Recognize, Address Health Care Crisis In Syria

Noting that UNICEF reported last week that the number of child refugees fleeing conflict in Syria has reached one million, a Lancet editorial states, “Syria has presented the world with a geopolitical crisis. The global community must not ignore the health crisis that continues to deepen.” The editorial continues, “After three years of decimation to Syria’s health system — and an estimated 100,000 deaths — the global community finally now seems to be waking up to the seriousness of this conflict for civilians,” especially following the alleged use of chemical weapons. “But beyond the immediate urgency of these latest events, the chronicity of the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and neighboring countries must not be forgotten,” The Lancet writes.

“The disruption to routine health services for children, women, and those who rely on stable supplies of medicines and health services … will inevitably cause substantial increases in preventable mortality,” the editorial states, adding, “The cruelty of the destruction of the health system is one of the deepest tragedies for Syria today.” According to the editorial, “The medical humanitarian response to these desperate predicaments is being hampered by lack of coordination and insufficient funding, and above all a lack of access to all parts of the population,” as reported by Adam Coutts and Fouad Fouad in The Lancet. “The world should be truly shocked by the civilian costs and consequences of this conflict — the simply unacceptable toll on health workers who struggle to maintain what few health services and facilities remain,” the editorial states, concluding, “While The Lancet does not take a position on whether or not a military solution to the Syrian crisis is right or wrong politically, we agree [that] the slow and now accelerating asphyxiation of an entire population cannot continue” (8/31).