Thursday, February 7, 2013

New problems in Syria: hepatitis, closed hospitals, ambulance shortages

Outbreaks of hepatitis A and other diseases spread by poor hygiene are now becoming problems among Syrians displaced by the civil war, the World Health Organization said Tuesday
Further aggravating the health of Syrians, the organization said, is a breakdown in the delivery of safe water throughout the country; the closing of at least one-third of Syria’s public hospitals; an exodus of doctors; and an acute shortage of ambulances, many of them damaged by fighting or impounded by the military or insurgent forces for use in combat

Another United Nations agency, the World Food Program, announced at a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, that it was accelerating food delivery to as many as 2.5 million people in government- and rebel-held areas of Syria. But the agency acknowledged that its ability to distribute the food was becoming increasingly tenuous
“There is a security issue,” Etienne Labonde, an agency representative, told reporters in Beirut. “We have to protect our staff on the ground, but the team in Syria is doing everything it can to deliver aid to all areas. Of course, there will always be pockets they can’t reach”

The spread of hepatitis A, a serious and highly contagious liver disease, can be prevented with a vaccine. The virus is spread by close personal contact and sharing food and drinking water. Officials said the problem was the worst in the crowded communal shelters for people displaced by the conflict
Ms. Hoff reported that just in the past month, the health situation in Syria became much worse. Many doctors and surgeons have fled the violence, and shifting battles have been preventing medical workers from getting to their jobs, including in Damascus, where, Ms. Hoff said, “from my window I can see black smoke from every corner of the city”
Hospitals and clinics that can still function are facing acute shortages of medicine and equipment, she said, including anesthetics, antibiotics and serums
News report here.