Diseases spread across Syria


A Syrian man reacts following reported airstrikes by government forces in the Syrian city of Raqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State, on November 27, 2014. (AFP)

About one million people have been wounded during Syria’s civil war and diseases are spreading as regular supplies of medicine fail to reach patients, the World Health Organization’s Syria representative said.

A plunge in vaccination rates from 90 percent before the war to 52 percent this year and contaminated water have added to the woes, allowing typhoid and hepatitis to advance, Elizabeth Hoff said in an interview late on Thursday.

More than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict, which began in March 2011 with popular protests against President Bashar al-Assad and spiraled into civil war after a crackdown by his security forces.

“In Syria, they have a million people injured as a direct result of the war. You can see it in the country when you travel around. You see a lot of amputees,” said Hoff. “This is the biggest problem.”

She said a collapsed health system, where over half of public hospitals are out of service, has meant that treatments for diseases and injuries are irregular.

Hoff said that Assad’s government –which demands to sign off on aid convoys– is still blocking surgical supplies, such as bandages and syringes, from entering rebel-held areas.

Aid workers say Damascus argues that the equipment would be used to help insurgents.

“What has been a problem is the regularity of supply,” she said. “The (government) approvals are sporadic.”

According to Hoff, more than 6,500 cases of typhoid were reported this year across Syria and 4,200 cases of measles, the deadliest disease for Syrian children.


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