Epidemic fears after Syria earthquake collapses medical infrastructure

Epidemic fears after Syrian earthquake kills medical team

Rubble in Aleppo after a devastating earthquake. Credit: Sevim Turkmani/OCHA

Syria fears a resurgence of diseases such as polio and cholera after last week’s earthquake destroyed a number of health centers and killed medical staff, the country’s health minister said.

Malam Al-Sheikh, the health minister of the Syrian interim government, said the earthquake had severely damaged the region’s primary health care system.

“More than 59 medical facilities have been completely or partially destroyed,” Al-Sheikh said. “over 50 Killed in northern Syria. ”

At least 41,000 people are known to have died as hundreds of aftershocks turned entire streets into rubble following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwestern Syria early on February 6. .

UN agencies and NGOs warn of secondary health crises if needs are not met amid the growing threat of infectious diseases such as cholera.

“We are facing a huge challenge … epidemic outbreaks,” Al-Sheikh said, referring to measles, polio, cholera and possibly COVID-19 and new waves of viral infections. .

“What we need is… technical Without support from United Nations agencies, international donors and local organizations, we will not be able to address a previously controlled disease outbreak.”

His comments on Tuesday (Feb. 16) added that the United Nations will add $397 million requested from the Syrian people on Tuesday to help the Turkish people affected by the earthquake. It was issued when they demanded $1 billion over three months.

The World Health Organization also said it would double its request for US$43 million to respond to devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

“Survivors now have adequate shelter, heating, food, or medical care,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing on Wednesday.

He said WHO is providing care not only to injured survivors, but also to those at risk of disability, hypothermia, mental health and psychosocial needs, and infectious diseases. .

“So far, we have shipped medicines and supplies to both affected countries to support the care of more than 500,000 people, including emergency surgery,” he added.

However, it took time for relief supplies to reach survivors, with the first UN convoy only crossing from Turkey’s Bab al Salameh on Tuesday, a day after the two border crossings reopened.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) has teams in the field in northern Syria supporting hospitals with staff and medical equipment, and emergency stockpiles while awaiting international supplies. said to be using

Moheeb Kadur, director of MSF’s hospital in Atmeh, northern Syria, said earlier this week, “Almost a week after the earthquake, we still have no outside help.” It only came from other hospitals, communities or organizations that already existed before.”

He said doctors are still performing life-saving surgeries on crash syndrome victims, saying, “This condition, which results from prolonged compression of the muscles, can be fatal… the situation is beyond words.” , for now we are alone.”

The Bab al Salameh and Al Rai border crossings from Turkey into opposition-controlled areas of northern Syria opened on February 9, following UN talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Later, more than 100 of his trucks loaded with UN aid crossed into Syria carrying tents, blankets, heaters, food, medicines and cholera test kits.

But international NGOs operating in Syria are calling for an expanded emergency response in a region where 4.1 million people already relied on humanitarian assistance to survive before the disaster, following 12 years of conflict.

“NGOs are very concerned that the current level of response reaching Syria’s affected areas falls short of what is needed in the face of devastation,” said 35 A release issued by the organization said:

They said due to a lack of additional equipment and capacity going into northwestern Syria, local rescuers were only able to search 5% of the affected area, leaving the remaining 95% trapped under rubble. I couldn’t save people.

More than 8,900 buildings have been completely or partially destroyed in northwestern Syria, leaving at least 11,000 people homeless, according to UN statistics.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), women and girls make up the majority of those displaced, or displaced, in shelters in northern and northwestern Syria.

Laila Baker, UNFPA’s Regional Director for Arab Countries, said maternal and child health services and other programs for women and girls had to “expand significantly” since the earthquake.

increased risk of disease

Aid agencies have identified secondary health emergencies in both countries, with thousands lacking safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, increasing the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera. Humanitarian assistance is urgently needed to avoid

Syria is already in the middle of a cholera outbreak, with over 14,000 suspected cases recorded in Idlib and over 11,000 in Aleppo since September.

UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, has also warned that cases of respiratory infections and hypothermia are also on the rise among young people in Turkey.

UNICEF spokesman James Elder said: “Families with children are staying out in the open, sleeping in streets, malls, mosques, schools, under bridges, for fear of returning home.

Randa Ghazy, Regional Media Manager for Save the Children International, is in Antakya, one of the most affected areas in Turkey. She said, “I spoke to parents sleeping in cars and community centers around Antakya and they said their children were vomiting. I am really worried about it.”

She said many hospitals were destroyed and those remaining were overwhelmed by the number of injured. “Hospitals also lack medical supplies and fuel to operate. Hospitals will be unable to cope with waterborne disease outbreaks and children will be at greatest risk,” she added. .

The organization said it was sending a team of water sanitation and sanitation experts to assess needs on the ground and assist the Turkish government.

Provided by SciDev.Net

Quote: Epidemic scare after Syrian earthquake (17 February 2023) destroys medical infrastructure Taken from -infrastructure-shattered-syria.html

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