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Home Emergency preparedness and humanitarian action | News | In focus | WHO supports Aleppo’s besieged health system


WHO supports Aleppo’s besieged health system

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In March 2013, WHO was part of a UN convoy carrying humanitarian supplies, including medicines and vaccines, to Aleppo.

The security situation in and around Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, is volatile. In many areas, fighting is ongoing, and almost half of the city is occupied by the opposition. The city’s 3 functioning hospitals are struggling to provide health services due to shortages in water and electricity, lack of medicines and medical supplies, and an increased number of patients. Mobile clinics supported by WHO and other agencies have been forced to relocate to other parts of the country due to constant attacks.

In March 2013, WHO joined a UN mission to Aleppo to provide humanitarian supplies and identify urgent health needs.

In March 2013, WHO joined a UN convoy to the city of Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria, to provide humanitarian supplies, including medicines and vaccines, to local health facilities and determine additional health needs.Photo credit: WHO
The security situation in and around Aleppo is volatile, with fighting still taking place in parts of the city. Despite insecurity, the city hosts more than 2 million internally displaced persons fleeing the violence in other parts of the country.Photo credit: OCHA
Disruptions in municipality services have left most of the city without water or electricity, and garbage is left to pile up on the side of roads. This deterioration in hygiene and sanitation increases the risk of vector- and water-borne diseases.Photo credit: OCHA
Many hospitals and health centers have been forced to close due to damage to infrastructure, lack of fuel for generators, and shortages of electricity and water.Photo credit: WHO
Most nonfunctioning facilities are now occupied by internally displaced persons who have nowhere else to live. Almost two thirds of the rooms in Aleppo’s maternity hospital (above) are currently being used as accommodation for 260 families, with the remainder of the hospital functioning with limited capacity.Photo credit: WHO
Hospitals that are functioning are overwhelmed with patients, despite limited capacity due to shortages in health staff and medicines. In February 2013, Al Razi hospital reported an average of 6700 patients and 35 surgeries per day. Due to a lack of ambulances, 37 people died at the hospital last month because they were brought in too late for treatment.Photo credit: WHO
During the time of WHO’s mission to Aleppo’s maternity hospital,a newborn was being attended to by a nurse who was using her mobile phone as a source of light.Photo credit: WHO
Over a ten day period, Aleppo’s maternity hospital only had electricity for five days and only for a few hours each day. Despite this, the hospital handles approximately 18 obstetric deliveries a day, including 10 by caesarean section.Photo credit: WHO
WHO is working with health partners to urgently provide medicines and medical supplies to functioning hospitals and health centres in Aleppo.The most critical needs reported by health staff are medicines for trauma injuries, including IV fluids, as well as for hypertension, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, and medicines for Leishmaniasis.Photo credit: OCHA
To date, WHO has provided medicines and medical supplies for 1.5 million people in Syria, and continues to work with health partners on the ground to reach affected people, especially women and children, in urgent need of health services.Photo credit: Alexandra Taha/WHO

In March 2013, WHO joined a UN convoy to the city of Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria, to provide humanitarian supplies, including medicines and vaccines, to local health facilities and determine additional health needs.
Photo credit: WHO

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