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Strengthening the resilience of communities in northwest Syria through health, mental health and psychosocial support, and nutrition

In the midst of conflict, natural disasters, and socioeconomic challenges, Syria confronts significant implications for its health sector. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 12 million people urgently require health assistance. Half a million children are chronically malnourished, and non-communicable diseases are a major health concern, particularly among displaced communities. This situation has been further exacerbated by the recent earthquakes. 

The health service infrastructure in northwest Syria requires extensive maintenance and rehabilitation to provide a minimum level of service delivery. There is a chronic shortage of health care staff driven by displacement, death, injury, and flight. The public health system has collapsed. Many hospitals and medical facilities were destroyed during the war, the power supply is inadequate and there is a shortage of medicines, consumables, and medical personnel. 

To strengthen the resilience of communities in northwest Syria, we are applying an integrated and multi-sectoral approach, combining health, MHPSS (mental health and psychosocial support), and nutrition

The health system in northwest Syria has been severely damaged which impacts the quality as well as the accessibility to health services for a large part of the Syrian population in the area. In addition to the consequences of the war, the cholera outbreak and COVID-19 constituted significant challenges regarding health-services delivery. Multiple social, environmental, political, and economic factors have highlighted health issues in the area. Nutrition-related health problems and mental health concerns are particularly common, especially after years of conflict, compounded by the recent earthquake.

Out of 113 public hospitals assessed by the WHO, 50 percent were reported fully functioning, 26 percent were reported partially functioning, and 24 percent were reported non-functioning. Out of 1789 assessed public health centres, 47 percent were reported fully functioning, 21 percent partially functioning, and 32 percent were completely out of service (as of 2022).

We aim to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining services to both internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the host community in northwest Syria. We increase access to essential health services by combining health with nutrition, mental health, and psychosocial support services, to reduce the vulnerability of the people affected in the region. In cooperation with local partners, we provide health services in 7 secondary health facilities and 8 primary health facilities.

  • Outpatient services in basic health stations and hospitals, such as general medical examinations, treatment of malnutrition in children, and/or vaccinations. 

  • Support of hospitals where modern diagnostic procedures and specialist treatments are performed, e.g., in the fields of emergency medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, orthopedics, ear, nose and throat, ophthalmology, neurology, and urology as well as emergency medicine and trauma care. 

  • Provision of primary and secondary child and maternal health services. 

  • Provision of intensive care units, thalassemia, and dialysis units. 

  • Provision of ambulances and patient transport systems so patients can be referred for more advanced care. 

  • Procurement of medicine and medical consumables. 

  • Distribution of medicines and personal protective equipment to health facilities. 

  • Provision of mental health and psychosocial support services.  

  • Deployment of health workers in communities and health posts for health education and early detection of diseases and malnutrition. 

  • Capacity strengthening of the health system by implementing health data management systems. 

  • COVID-19 and Cholera awareness raising and prevention. 

Country info

Capital: Damascus
Area: 185,180 km²
Population: approx. 22.13 million

Project data

Financing: German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO), DG ECHO and Germany's Relief Coalition (ADH)

Partner: Hand in Hand for Aid and Development (HIHFAD), Independent Doctors Association (IDA), Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)

Duration: April 2023 - June 2024

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