Syria: Humanitarian groups can't keep up with mounting medical needs
Published Tuesday, April 9, 2013 10:40AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2013 10:35PM EDT
With staggering numbers of Syrians being injured and displaced as the deadly conflict drags on, Medecins Sans Frontieres says more pressure needs to be placed on Syria’s regime to allow humanitarian aid into the war-torn country.
MSF Canada’s executive director Steve Cornish says the organization, also known as Doctors Without Borders, plans to double its efforts in Syria, where it operates three clinics.
“There are very few international actors on the ground and very few who are present with teams. So we need international pressure on all parties in this conflict to allow humanitarian access, to respect medical facilities and personnel, in order for us to be able to assist properly,” Cornish told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday.
Cornish spent a week in Syria in March, which marked the deadliest month yet in the two-year-old conflict as an estimated 6,000 deaths were reported. He was in the country to review Medecins Sans Frontieres’ safety measures
“It’s very difficult for those who are wounded to actually flee and get medical care,” Cornish said, explaining that when the wounded find a safe route to make it to medical clinic, it’s often too late.
The United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed since the uprising began.
Some of the war’s “silent victims” are those who were diagnosed with illnesses prior to uprising and suddenly became unable to access certain medicine or receive treatment, Cornish said.
“One woman had cancer and couldn’t get follow up treatment, and her husband is just watching her die day over day,” he recalled. “And all we can do it treat palliative.”
Cornish said during his visit he witnessed a number of Syrians without proper training stepping into doctors’ roles.
“You have dentists doing minor surgery, pharmacists working in the wards,” he said. “What we’re doing is not only trying to supply them with medical equipment, but also training in mass causalities and anesthesiology.”
His visit came as news broke of children workings as orderlies in Syria’s makeshift medical clinics.
With an estimated 2.5 million Syrians displaced by the conflict, Cornish said serious sanitary issues exist in refugee camps. With the summer months approaching, he said issues with heat and overcrowding can develop.
“We think the international community has fully responded but we haven’t been able to keep up to the massive beds and incredible amount of suffering we’re seeing on the ground.”
The organization is looking for financial donations to be able to increase their efforts in Syria.